Pick-It-Up!

2016-03-13 08:49

There are a number of ways to tell that Pikitup is once again on strike. The easiest being that for the last week no one would have rung your door bell to ask for a bribe or “encouragement” to do what it is that they are already paid to do. Which is to remove the voluptuous dustbins that have been dragged on to the pavement in anticipation of collection. One might be naïve enough to assume that the fact the bins have been neglected (again) by Pikitup would be sign enough, but given the complexities of this relationship, that is hardly reason enough to assume anything.

It’s much like being married. As many guys will testify, the intricacies required to comprehend the cause of an icy demeanor emanating from one’s spouse lie way beyond the working of the average male’s mind. And acceptance of this knowledge will lead to a much happier and less perplexing relationship all round. So too when we were boycotted by Pikitiup for a number of weeks, no amount of guessing would solve the riddle. In that case, and perhaps like in a marriage, a little “Xmas box” did wonders, and lo and behold we were back to business as usual – whatever that means with Pikitup. Or marriage.

Even when they are not on strike (I believe that it does happen from time to time) the stars need to fully align for all one's bins to be collected. Because Pikitup demands perfection. And they hold their customers to a standard to which they no doubt hold themselves. Bins need to be regulation ones. And an unfortunate uptick in the production of weekly household waste means additional bins need to be obtained from somewhere in a transaction so complex that only a senior partner at an internationally affiliated law firm could facilitate it. I have had simpler transactions forward trading physical commodities without the backing of a terminal market (pretty complicated stuff) that required less head scratching. And all this to have our rubbish removed. One of the very few services that we still rely on our municipality to provide.

Of course there is a business opportunity in all this. The dilapidated healthcare system gave us magnificent private medical care, the courier companies flourish on the back of a pathetic and non existent post office, private education has become the norm because of a failed education system and privately owned security firms keep us safe when the police cannot. Our backyards house generators for when Eskom lets us down and the borehole drillers and water diviners circle our suburbs looking to provide an alternative to Rand Water.

More and more South Africans rely on less and less. They have looked to the private sector to provide the services that they already pay for.

I have long contemplated placing a border control at the end of my driveway and declaring independence from South Africa. I even contemplated franchising the customs section to the Discovery Channel for our own reality show version of " Border Security" but was curtailed by the fact that I have until now relied on Pikitup to clear the rubbish. It didn’t seem fair to expect another country to provide this service. But as they are either on strike or not collecting the garbage because of “rule 4b”, this is no longer a consideration. And I might well go ahead.

The Pikitup situation is very clearly a metaphor for service delivery in South Africa. Simply put, it’s a mess. It’s yet another service that South Africans will no doubt be forced, out of necessity to provide themselves, even though they already pay for it. Honestly, it’s a load of rubbish.

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