Vandalism slowing delivery - Zille

2010-06-04 21:29

Cape Town - Theft and vandalism in informal settlements around Cape Town is costing the city tens of millions of rands and is slowing down the delivery of services such as water and sanitation, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said on Friday.

"If it were not for this lawlessness, the city would be able to upgrade informal settlements at three times the current rate," she said in her weekly newsletter, published on the DA's website.

Repairing or replacing stolen or vandalised basic services in informal settlements had cost Cape Town more than R80m last year.

"For every R3 that the city spends of its R125m annual budget for water and sanitation facilities in informal settlements, R2 is spent on repairs and replacement of vandalised or stolen infrastructure."

Zille, who is also premier of the Western Cape, said that in the past financial year the city had installed 422 water stand pipes, but had to effect 5 482 repairs to sabotaged or stolen pipes and taps.

"In the same year, the city' utility services installed 2 458 toilets, but had to make 4 302 repairs to cisterns, pans, pipes and ablutions damaged by criminals."

'Pure vandalism'

"Last December, 300 out of 464 toilets installed in a Delft informal settlement were broken or had parts stolen. In Philippi, vandals destroyed 26 ablution blocks containing six toilets each."

"In RR Section of Khayelitsha, chemical toilets were burned to the ground. This all happened within weeks of installation."

To address the theft of copper cabling, brass valves, lead batteries, manhole covers and water meters, the city authorities were now using only plastic or steel pipes, and concrete for toilets.

"Underground electricity cables are now covered with concrete so that they can't be dug out. Cape Town's 'Copperheads' task team has also cracked down on dealers of stolen scrap metal."

"The city has even provided padlocks and chains to community leaders to keep toilet facilities secure overnight."

However, a new pattern was emerging, where plastic pipes were stolen, despite their minimal re-sale value, concrete toilets were smashed with axes, and even padlocks were taken. This was pure vandalism.

"City officials report that residents sometimes vandalise facilities to secure more jobs in the subsequent repair programmes on the basis of the city's 'local employment' policies, creating a perverse incentive for people to destroy newly-installed infrastructure to secure employment in the repair work."

"When contractors employ other outside labour, local communities often drive them out of the area, delaying projects by months and years. This pushes up the cost of services in informal settlements," Zille said.