Crackdown in ‘City of Filth’

2017-11-20 10:27
A volunteer walks down Church Street with a bolt cutter during a campaign by the municipality to clean up the city.

A volunteer walks down Church Street with a bolt cutter during a campaign by the municipality to clean up the city. (Ian Carbutt)

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“We are gatvol of being called the city of filth.”

Those were the words of Msunduzi general manager for Economic and Sustainable Development Dr Ray Ngcobo on Friday as he took part in a widespread clean-up operation by the City which dug into the core of the filth and decay in the city centre on Friday.

Dubbed “Conscious Friday”, the campaign is part of a crackdown in the CBD launched by the municipality last Friday.

Various municipal units including the health unit, business licensing, electricity, storm water, the Msunduzi Transport Authority and the police did a walkabout on Church Street and East Street.

Leading the campaign was mayor Themba Njilo and Ngcobo.

Ngcobo said the campaign seeks to address some social concerns and service delivery issues identified by the municipality in certain parts of the CBD.

“We are committed to keeping the city clean for the overall benefit of our residents and to attract business investments ... The time to take action is now.

“We believe that through this campaign we can restore the status of our beautiful city.”

He encouraged locals to report illegal dumping and take the effort to ensure the streets of Pietermaritzburg are clean.

“We want to root out all forms of dirt, dysfunctional infrastructure, non-compliance to the city’s bylaws while keeping the city clean, sustainable and well maintained.”

Workers clear an illegal electrical shop during a campaign by the municipality to clean up the city. 

While the delegation pushed their brooms through the inner city, the prime target was street vendors. The authorities accused the vendors of polluting the streets and obstructing traffic, as vendors protested that they have no other source of income.

Business owners quickly scrambled to collect their stock outside, as part of the campaign was removing everything that did not belong on the pavements.

Officials said municipal bylaws stipulate that goods cannot be displayed on the pavements as it is municipal property.

“I’m hurting. I have sold food on the street for 14 years,” said Simangele Dlamini before Msunduzi security guards confiscated her stock worth R2 000 and told her to leave until further notice.

Dlamini said her efforts to apply for a permit to trade in the city centre had been unfruitful.

“When I tried to apply for a permit I was sent from pillar to post.”

Shop owners were warned that the municipality’s law enforcement unit will make regular visits to see if they comply with municipal bylaws.

Police officers patrolling the CBD impounded vehicles that were unregistered and wrote fines for illegally parked vehicles.

The delegation also targeted several electricity distribution boxes in the vicinity, appointing a contractor to cut illegal electricity connections from businesses that were stealing electricity from the municipality.

Ngcobo warned business owners that apart from disconnecting the electricity, the municipality will impose huge fines on their municipal accounts if they are found to have been using electricity and water illegally.

Piles of clothing and stacks of shoes usually displayed at the corner of Boshoff Street and Church Street were all loaded into two municipal trucks.

The fruit, clothes, socks, hats, linen and jewellery stalls also vanished.

Ngcobo said the sheer volume of informal trading brought about unique challenges.

“It increases congestion, public urination, infrastructure maintenance, the enforcing of bylaws and potential urban decay.”

General manager for Economic and Sustainable Development Dr Ray Ngcobo and Pietermaritzburg mayor Themba Njilo (centre right) watch as a vagrant is removed from the CBD during a campaign by the municipality to clean up the city.

Umgungundlovu South Cluster commander Phumelele Makhoba, who was also part of the operation, said the filth in the city centre contributes to the dramatic increase of crime.

“Business robberies in the CBD are on the rise. The city is cramped and criminals always have a place to hide.”

Makhoba said a co-ordinated crime and safety enforcement effort will ultimately improve the livability of the inner city.

Meanwhile, opposition parties said they were left out of the clean-up operation.

IFP Msunduzi caucus leader Thinasonke Ntombela said the clean-up campaign was an ANC campaign.

“We were never invited to take part in the campaign. What they do is bus in volunteers from ANC branches and give them food parcels after the campaign.

“No resolution was taken by council on a budget for the campaign. As far as I’m concerned it’s wasteful expenditure. The city already employs people to clean.”

Democratic Alliance caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said the city’s former glory could be restored if the municipality fills vacant posts.

“The money is there to make sure we keep the city clean but there is no political will. This situation is compromising our investments, the city is a pig sty.”

Majola said as a matter of urgency, vacant posts must be filled.

“Due to the shortage of staff, shifts have to be reduced. During the day nobody is there to make sure the city is clean.”

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg

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