Pil­lay hits the ground run­ning

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By SUE MACLENNAN

Within two days of ar­riv­ing in Gra­ham­stown, district mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Ted Pil­lay had se­cured the con­tin­ued use of the Jet­patcher that the cit­i­zen group Makana Re­vive brought to town last week to fix the city’s no­to­ri­ous pot­holes.

The ma­chine, ac­com­pa­nied by a team of four from East Lon­don, started work re­pair­ing Al­bert Street in Fingo Vil­lage last Thurs­day and has pro­ceeded to re­pair the town’s busier ac­cess roads.

Pil­lay, sec­onded by the Sarah Baart­man District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to Makana for a three­month turn­around pe­riod, was in­tro­duced to the Makana Coun­cil at its first full sit­ting of the year, last Wed­nes­day.

On Fri­day he was out on the streets across the city, in­clud­ing at the site of the Jet­patcher op­er­a­tions.

This week, Pil­lay con­firmed that since Tues­day, as act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­ager, he has taken over the Jet­patcher on be­half of Makana and has bud­geted close to half a mil­lion rands to see through what the town’s cit­i­zens started.

“The Jet­patcher is still work­ing in Gra­ham­stown and will re­main here for a min­i­mum of 20 days,” Pil­lay said.

“We are hop­ing that through this good ini­tia­tive, most of the pot­holes on the main routes in the CBD will be dealt with. I am also very wor­ried about res­i­den­tial ar­eas through­out Gra­ham­stown and the Jet­patcher will be work­ing there as well.”

Makana would foot the bill, but will be re­im­bursed by the District for the roughly R500 000 the op­er­a­tions were ex­pected to cost.

Lis­ten­ing

Asked how he planned to turn Makana around, Pil­lay said, “I know very well the state of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and I have a good feel for the in­sti­tu­tion.

The prob­lems Makana faced were in­sti­tu­tional, fi­nan­cial and in ser­vice de­liv­ery.

“While I have big­ger is­sues to tackle, I can­not al­low sit­u­a­tion with in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices to pre­vail. “

Pil­lay said he would per­sist “un­til this town starts to change… I want peo­ple to have hope again.

“I in­tend to make sure ser­vices are avail­able to all cit­i­zens of Makana.”

Sup­port for ac­tion

At last week’s Coun­cil meet­ing, speak­ers from both the DA and the ANC urged the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and cit­i­zens to throw their weight be­hind Pil­lay. Was there po­lit­i­cal sup­port for his role?

“I have to do what I have to do,” Pil­lay said. “I am fo­cused on the task.”

Dur­ing the past few coun­cil meet­ings, coun­cil­lors and of­fi­cials have spo­ken about a poor work ethic. Was Pil­lay re­ceiv­ing co-op­er­a­tion from staff at Makana?

“We need to im­prove morale here,” Pil­lay said. “We need to mo­ti­vate ev­ery­one, make them feel val­ued and re­alise why they are com­ing to work. Then hope­fully they can start to per­form op­ti­mally.”

Ex­ces­sive over­time also re­ceived at­ten­tion in coun­cil meet­ings last year. Would he be tack­ling that?

“All fi­nan­cial re­lated mat­ters in­clud­ing over­time, every­thing per­tain­ing to the fi­nan­cial sus­tain­ablity of the in­sti­tu­tion – from billing, col­lec­tions, ex­pen­di­ture, pay­roll – all that is what I will be look­ing at,” Pil­lay said.

“The bot­tom line is to re­store the sus­tain­abil­ity of the in­sti­tu­tion.” Makana Re­vive spokesper­son Ron Weis­senberg said it was too early to as­sess what dif­fer­ence Pil­lay’s pres­ence in Makana was mak­ing. How­ever, he said res­i­dents could be­come more in­volved “by un­der­stand­ing the is­sues, join­ing civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions like the GRA and not be­ing shy to of­fer par­tic­u­lar skills or ex­per­tise”.

• Ad­di­tional re­ported by Kathryn Cleary

Photo: Sue Maclennan

Welling­ton Vatyala op­er­ates the Jet­patcher ma­chine fill­ing in pot­holes in African Street yes­ter­day as Shane Tay­lor di­rects traf­fic.

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