City too poor to fix lights

2019-06-10 16:35
Msunduzi says it did not have money needed to carry out the repairs on streets lights .PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

Msunduzi says it did not have money needed to carry out the repairs on streets lights .PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

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Msunduzi doesn’t have the money to keep all Pietermaritzburg’s street lights on.

This is why residents’ pleas for the municipality to fix its many broken lights have been ignored and Msunduzi has now admitted that it simply has not had money to carry out the necessary repairs.

One of the areas most affected is ward 26, which includes parts of the CBD and Prestbury.

Ward councillor Ross Strachan said since last year he had been receiving complaints from ratepayers who were fed up with Msunduzi’s lack of response.

“We have entire suburbs in darkness, we have crime that is escalating daily due to the situation, and the safety of our communities has been compromised due to the lack of interest from the municipality.”

Strachan said some streets had been left in the dark since last year. He said one of the officials told him that there had been technical issues surrounding the maintenance of street lights over the past year, but “surely this cannot still be the case”.

“People have reported to the municipality and I also tried to get the City to do something but no one even acknowledged my e-mails. There is just no sense of urgency to deal with anything and that is completely unacceptable,” he said.

He said while some parts of the city were without working lights, there were some streets that had lights burning day and night.

There are more than 25 streets affected across Strachan’s ward, which includes parts of Wembley, Clarendon, Blackridge and Boughton.

Chairperson of the Zwartkop Valley Ratepayers’ Association, Trish Collocott, said some of the streets in her neighbourhood had not worked for months and the community was feeling helpless because they had made several reports to the call centre.

“The problem is that it’s not one light here and there that’s not working, it’s an entire road. I feel sorry for the people who have to walk there in the evenings because they are completely vulnerable to criminals because in some areas it’s pitch black,” she said.

Bongani Xaba, who lives on Holiday Street, said he had two reference numbers from the call centre for the times he reported that the lights were not working.

He said the last report was in April and he had simply given up trying to get the municipality to do anything.

“Eventually you get to a point where you have to realise that you are wasting your time with Msunduzi, this is one of those times. You just pray that someone is not lurking next to your gate as you drive in at night because they could walk into your property without you even noticing,” he said.

Northdale councillor Rooksana Ahmed alleged that the municipality squandered the budget allocation for the repair and maintenance of street lights. She said that the DA had also reported the issue of dysfunctional street lights to the administrator, Sibusiso Sithole, and they hoped it would be one of the service delivery concerns his team would attend to.

“It takes months of reporting street lights and then the repairs are eventually done but they go off again after a few days … The contractors must be held accountable for the defective workmanship,” said Ahmed.

Msunduzi spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said: “Due to the recent financial challenges that we have been having as the municipality, there were delays in providing immediate attention to faulty street lights.”

She said a programme has been developed and a financial allocation has been made towards addressing the street light challenge in and around the city.

“We appeal for patience from the members of the community while we implement the programme. We further urge them to continue notifying the municipality through the call centre (0800 001 868) and obtain reference numbers.

“Those reference numbers are an assurance that the matter was indeed reported and will be attended to accordingly.”

What you told us

The Witness received more than 120 comments from its readers when it asked on Facebook if street lights in their neighbourhoods worked. The shared sentiment was that the City was not doing anything after receiving reports. Some even posted the reference numbers they received from the call centre.

-Njabulo Mlaba wrote: Eastwood Rooiborsie Road. The last two street lights have not been working since the beginning of the year. Reported it once. Nothing is done.

-Danie Strydom: Hesketh Drive and Grimthorpe Ave what I know of. The lights in these roads (the ones that work) burn day and night. I noticed that in December 2018.

-Telana Lengenhager: Top part of Murray Road in Lincoln Meade hasn’t been working for months now, part of Stamford as well.

-Anj Sribrath: Lorraine Road. Pelham. Sections of Alexandra Rd. Woodhouse Road, sections of Boshoff Street and Commercial Road, Washington Road. The list is really endless!

-Maureen Buchanan: Only some on Uplands Road and none in Sweetwaters Road … very dark in the early morning when [leaving] home at 5.45 am ... and dangerous as [there is] hardly any visibility.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  street lights
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