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2018-07-16 17:04
Residents' complaints met with a stony silence from City.

Residents' complaints met with a stony silence from City. (File)

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Trying to get through to Msunduzi Municipality to lodge a complaint is, as frustrated ratepayers bemoan constantly, almost impossible. For the few who do manage, however, there is no certainty that their problems will be addressed.

As a last resort, many people of Pietermaritzburg turn to The Witness for help in gaining the municipality’s ear. Most of the paper’s attempts meet the same fate.

Since the start of the year, The Witness has submitted nearly 80 queries on behalf of residents to the municipality. Of these, 57 received no response.

Complaints range from the serious billing crisis, to broken street lights, water leaks, the unexplained closure of public swimming pools, to general difficulties in service delivery.

In some instances, queries merely asking for clarity on municipal bylaws and what residents could do when faced with certain challenges, have never been answered.

The Witness has even run stories about ward councillors and prominent business forums receiving no joy from the City after extensive written correspondence detailing complaints.

A Raisethorpe Business Forum even needed to be established to discuss serious complaints that the business fraternity had over a lack of municipal enforcement in clearing vagrants and policing traffic. Municipal representatives never attended some meetings, despite promising to.

Beleaguered residents contact The Witness in a last-ditch attempt to get some kind of reaction from the municipality.

The Witness has also reported that Msunduzi has one of the most inefficient call centres in the country — statistical validation of widely held concerns that the City does not take their complaints seriously.

The paper has also reported on standoffs at council meetings, where even members of the City’s executive committee struggle to get responses, which many regard as an indication of the paralysis of municipal functions.

Listed below are examples of some of the complaints that residents have brought to The Witness, with the municipality’s responses:

n Ongoing complaints from residents who have not received municipal bills, leaving hundreds without clarity on what they owe Msunduzi.

No comment.

There is no indication why the problem persists.

n Ongoing electricity meter disconnections for defaulting households, which contravene the City’s own by-laws, which stipulate defaulters should be furnished with three days’ notice before being disconnected.

No comment.

Disconnections continue without any notice.

n Property sellers and buyers wait endlessly for rates clearance certificates, despite a promised 14-day turnaround time.

No comment.

n Residents criticised the “sneaky” addition of a recycling charge to their municipal bills.

No comment.

n Residents of Willowfountain in February had their water turned off just days after rejoicing that their supply had returned after months of no water.

No comment.

n Public swimming pools were mysteriously closed during the Easter holidays and on Sundays, causing outrage from residents.

No comment.

n Residents said Msunduzi began rolling out smart meter installations, and that electricity contractors could not be stopped from doing so, since electricity meters were municipal property. But a lack of information about how the system worked made residents resistant to it.

No comment.

n A Northdale pensioner complained of the municipality failing to take action against noisy neighbours.

No comment.

n Some units at Pietermaritzburg (Loop Street) police station were without electricity for at least two weeks in April, hindering the public’s ability to file and get updates from detectives on cases.

No comment.

n The business fraternity of Mason’s Mill, one of the pillars of the local industrial sector, complained of a serious lack of service delivery from the municipality, which impedes their productivity.

No comment.

n Students and academics complained that many computers at the Bessie Head Library were not working, making it tough to get work done.

No comment.

n In various reports, vagrants were said to be living in unkempt grass on residential roads in Raisethorpe.

No comment.

n Hilton had two major power outages in the last year.

No comment.

n A lack of law enforcement on streets in the city centre was highlighted on Masukwana (East) Street, where taxis are parked along the side of the road at all times.

No comment.

n The Witness ran several reports of a gushing manhole cover on Hoosen Haffejee (Berg) Street, which caused residents on the street to vow to close off the road until the municipality acted.

No comment, although the leak was fixed.

n A tree at a Northdale home, which is marked as “protected” on the title deeds, fell on the house. The household spent years pleading with the municipality to move the “rotting” tree.

No comment on clarity requested over why the tree was deemed “protected” on the title deeds.

n Residents expressed concerns over animals from Bisley Valley nature reserve escaping after a cattle grid became silted up with debris.

No comment.

n Sewage was leaking into the Duzi River during the Dusi Canoe Marathon in February, raising hygiene and health concerns for canoeists.

No comment.


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