OPINION | Msunduzi must do better

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OPINION:


I followed a Porsche into work the other morning. Oh, it was a sight to behold! Sleek, low, and curvy in all the right places. I had unadulterated Porsche-envy right there. My darling little old car is so part of my life, and I really love her dearly, but I admit there are times when I guiltily fantasize about driving a beauty like the vision that led the way on Tuesday morning.

My stomach lurched. “Don’t do it!” I yelled over the drone of the radio’s current affairs show in the background. “There be pitfalls and potholes!
Stephanie Saville

That Porsche — with GP registration plates (yes, that’s where the big bucks are) — glided off the highway onto the Chota Motala interchange and as I admired its moves as it sped along, I noticed its indicator spark into life, flickering the driver’s intention to turn into Willowton Road. My stomach lurched. “Don’t do it!” I yelled over the drone of the radio’s current affairs show in the background. “There be pitfalls and potholes!

”Sure enough, as I shook my head while clicking my tongue, into Willowton Road it went. For those of you who’ve not driven my route to work recently, this horrible road is good enough for big motorbikes, the many trucks with massive wheels that trundle its length and, at a push, skorroskorros. A high-end luxury vehicle on it seemed out of place. It should be driving on a smooth autobahn where its tyres could be cosseted by smooth surfaces. So, my interest and sympathies aroused, I kept close behind, a voyeur intent on watching it try to avoid the significant road damage and craters of Willowton Road. Which it did, thankfully turning into a side street before they reached their worst further up after the Post Office.

My car and I jiggled and joggled, swerved and bounced until we reached The Witness office, and as I turned into the driveway, the recent words of the City, decreeing that it would repair Willowton Road imminently, rang hollow in my ears. I wondered if anyone on the council ever came this way, and if they didn’t cringe when they saw the state of so many of our roads.

Remember they said they had one mop to clean everything, from the toilets to the mayor’s office.
Stephanie Saville

Then I thought this: Tell me you didn’t exclaim with an exasperated “what the …”, when you read that cleaners at the city hall were not being given the proper tools to clean the city’s headquarters adequately. Remember they said they had one mop to clean everything, from the toilets to the mayor’s office. And, this during a worldwide pandemic in which Msunduzi has managed to spend more than R23 million on Covid-19 measures. No one there cared enough to buy a few more mops or adequate cleaning materials for our iconic and historic city hall? That’s a poor show.

READ: Query over Covid-19 funds

The cleaning staff staged a sit-in protest to demand they be provided with uniforms and equipment to do their work. I was wondering how they can be expected to have pride in their work, when they’re doing it with one hand tied behind their back, without the tools to do it with. The cleaners said they did not even have a vacuum cleaner and that they sometimes had to buy cleaning materials from their own pockets. “It’s a disgrace that a whole municipality can’t just buy a Hoover, a few mops and buckets for cleaners,” said one cleaner. I think many of us agree.

The municipality swiftly blamed Covid-19 regulations for the lack of supplies. But, according to a report from Cogta, 11 municipalities in KZN managed to spend R749,5 million on Covid-19 related expenditure between March 15 and September 11. So it can’t be that hard to spend money, surely?

Pride starts at home, and for the administration of this city, home should be City Hall. And the streets we use to get anywhere here. Oh, and as an aside, speaking of our iconic, historic city hall, what about our recent story about the copper roofing being filched from the roof. In broad daylight. This was a follow-up to another story we’d done where a man was seen walking on the roof of the city hall while there was a council meeting on. We commented among ourselves in the newsroom that we hoped this was not part of some underhanded plot to cause instability there, but no, nothing so sensational. It was pure thievery. Luckily, the excellent sleuthing by the Safe City staff resulted in an arrest. It’s hard for many of us to believe we have people here who’ve reached such levels of brazen arrogance and sheer desperation that they’d climb up there during the day to peel back the copper sheeting, to be sold as scrap.

But well done, Safe City, and thank you! I hope the council will be vigilant going forward and will insist that guards at the city hall do spot checks skywards, so our city hall doesn’t lose what’s left of its lustre.

Speaking of a lack of lustre, please can the powers that be at Msunduzi redouble their efforts (again) and harness super-hero strength now to repair the capital and take back the pride we used to have in it.
Stephanie Saville

Speaking of a lack of lustre, please can the powers that be at Msunduzi redouble their efforts (again) and harness super-hero strength now to repair the capital and take back the pride we used to have in it. It must become a daily war against degradation. We have upwards of 620 000 people in our city, many, many of them rates and services payers contributing to the City’s coffers. And we are all aching to be impressed by Msunduzi, on a scale that makes a difference to the city we call home.

Do you feel the pressure, Msunduzi? Do you worry about it? Do hear us? Do you?

• Stephanie Saville is editor of The Witness.

Stephanie Saville.
Stephanie Saville.

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