Favours for friends

Mu­nic­i­pal grader and wa­ter tanker used to grade road for fu­neral

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - JON HOUZET

NDLAMBE mu­nic­i­pal re­sources were used to grade a pro­vin­cial ru­ral road from Bathurst to Trappes Val­ley as a favour to a former mayor be­cause of a fu­neral pro­ces­sion to his mother’s gravesite last Satur­day.

Farmer Co­ert Herbst alerted TotT to the use of the mu­nic­i­pal grader and wa­ter tanker last week and took pho­to­graphs.

He found out it was be­ing done for the fu­neral of former mayor Sipho Tan­dani’s mother.

“They [mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees] first drove all the way out the pre­vi­ous Satur­day to grade the road into Trappes Val­ley sta­tion and at the old rail­way cot­tages.

“Also the short road to an un­law­ful grave­yard next to the rail­way line,” Herbst said.

“Last week the grader and wa­ter truck graded the road from Bathurst to the en­trance of the grave­yard. It cov­ers a dis­tance of about 7km.”

The grad­ing of the road took place in the broader con­text of farm­ers hav­ing asked for years for roads like this to be graded – a pro­vin­cial com­pe­tency – and their re­quests fell on deaf ears.

Agri Eastern Cape took the pro­vin­cial roads de­part­ment to court two years ago to com­pel the de­part­ment to at­tend to ru­ral gravel roads that re­quired re­pair and main­te­nance.

Agri EC won the case in the Gra­ham­stown High Court in Fe­bru­ary, with a court or­der giving a time­line to the de­part­ment to ap­point con­trac­tors to fix roads badly in need of re­pair and es­tab­lish a rou­tine main­te­nance pro­gramme.

When Ndlambe DA cau­cus leader Ray Schenk heard about the use of mu­nic­i­pal equip­ment to grade the Trappes Val­ley road, he also sent ques­tions to mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Rolly Dumezweni.

“I wish to have in­for­ma­tion on whose in­struc­tion this por­tion of a pro­vin­cial ru­ral road was graded and from which bud­get the cost of this work was done,” Schenk said.

“If the grader and op­er­a­tor was hired out for this work I wish to know what the charge was for the work car­ried out and whether the ac­count has been set­tled with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“There are many gravel roads in Ndlambe ur­ban ar­eas that re­quire grad­ing but have been over­looked be­cause of the un­avail­abil­ity of the grader and/or bud­getary con­straints.

“There are kilo­me­tres of ru­ral gravel roads that are ne­glected by the pro­vin­cial au­thor­i­ties where the lo­cal farm­ing com­mu­nity has had to main­tain at their own cost.

“Will the mu­nic­i­pal­ity as­sist th­ese farm­ers as well, as a prece­dent has been set with the grad­ing of the gravel road to Trappes Val­ley?”

Schenk had not re­ceived a re­ply as of yes­ter­day morn­ing, but TotT re­ceived a re­ply to our query to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity over the use of mu­nic­i­pal re­sources for grad­ing the road.

Mu­nic­i­pal spokesman Ce­cil Mbolekwa said Dumezweni had tried to con­tact the pro­vin­cial engineer re­spon­si­ble for roads and transport in the area of Ndlambe, but could not get a re­sponse from him un­til last Thurs­day.

“We had to grade the road our­selves and later dis­cuss how the de­part­ment of roads and transport would com­pen­sate us for work done,” Mbolekwa said.

He avoided re­spond­ing to the as­ser­tion that mu­nic­i­pal re­sources were be­ing used as a favour to the former mayor.

“Over and above we still have the re­spon­si­bil­ity as the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to ser­vice the farm com­mu­nity con­sid­er­ing the is­sue of wall to wall bound­aries,” he said.

“As the mu­nic­i­pal­ity we also have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to as­sist the farm com­mu­ni­ties as we nor­mally do with ser­vices like elec­tric­ity, gel stoves and jojo tanks. We are also sup­port­ing the farm com­mu­nity by de­liv­er­ing fresh wa­ter to them, hence it is very im­por­tant to look at the is­sues of farm peo­ple holis­ti­cally.

“Not only to the farm-dwellers, the com­mu­nity in in­for­mal set­tle­ments and town­ship are also as­sisted when­ever they re­quest ac­cess to halls, church. also grave­yards.

“We can­not turn a blind eye when it comes to peo­ple who have made a se­ri­ous con­tri­bu­tion to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the com­mu­nity in gen­eral.”

Pictures: CO­ERT HERBST

PER­SONAL IN­TER­EST: A por­tion of the Trappes Val­ley road that was graded leads to the old rail­way cot­tages and gravesite of former mayor Sipho Tan­dani’s mother

ABUSE OF RE­SOURCES: A mu­nic­i­pal grader was used to grade the Trappes Val­ley dirt road for a fu­neral for the mother of former mayor Sipho Tan­dani last week

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