Streets still dark

2019-06-13 15:59
Scottsville residents plead for working streetlights as crooks strike.

Scottsville residents plead for working streetlights as crooks strike. (File)

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A combination of ageing infrastructure and an inadequate budget, is hampering the municipality’s ability to maintain and fix broken street lights.

This was revealed by acting general manager for infrastructure services Ngangenkosi Mpisi, at a full council sitting on Wednesday, when asked by councillors why some street lights had still not been fixed, despite a commitment to do so during the mid-year budget in January.

Councillors said the City’s delays in providing immediate attention to faulty street lights had made them look like “liars” to their communities, whom they had assured the matter would be attended to.

While an additional R25 million was moved from the capital budget to fix potholes and for the maintenance of the electricity infrastructure, which was to include the repairing of broken street lights, councillors said their wards were still shrouded in darkness.

ANC ward 35 councillor Sandile Dlamini said all the street lights in Sobantu were broken. “Sobantu has been in darkness for more than four weeks. If there’s an allocation of this nature, we want to know when the money will be used.”

He said none of the officials in the municipality had given councillors substantial answers surrounding the maintenance of street lights.

DA councillor Rooksana Ahmed criticised a “lack of response” from managers and general managers throughout the municipality.

“We have to report about 20 times before we even get one street light repaired. If the street lights have not been repaired, how are the funds are depleted?” Ahmed asked.

DA councillor Ross Strachan reiterated Ahmed’s statement and said that since last year he had been receiving complaints from ratepayers who were fed up with Msunduzi’s lack of response.

Mpisi said while they had converted R25 million from the capital budget to the operating budget, only R20 million was taken by infrastructure services. “Five million went to potholes and the balance went to electricity, however, the budget was not only for the street lighting. We replaced cables that resulted in some outages in the city. We needed to also cover the payment of Eskom for high mast lights in some wards.”

He said although R4,7 million was set aside to fix street lights, R3 million was used to settle historical payments. The challenge was that some street lights were vandalised after they had been fixed, he said.

“In the city centre, vagrants steal the copper street lighting wire. It becomes a wasteful exercise … how do you budget for something which is subject to vandalism on a daily basis,” he asked.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  street lights

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