Mayor responds to Povervac controvesy
The Mayor of the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality, Willem Safers, responded to speculations about Pollution Control Services (previously PowerVac) in his newsletter, From the Mayor’s Desk, dated 23 September.
In his newsletter, Safers stated that, during the 2019/2020 financial year, the municipality was faced with several sewer spillages in Jansenville, Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet. As a result of these spillages, the Democratic Alliance opened a criminal case against the municipal manager as, in terms of the National Water Act 1998, the municipal manager must take all reasonable steps to prevent any pollution from occurring, continuing and/or recurring. The municipality also received various communications from the Eastern Cape Legislature, and noncompliance letters from the Department of Water and Sanitation, regarding the said spillages.
In addition, Safers also made mention of the extremely sad tragedy that occurred when two municipal employees were involved in a fatal accident whilst cleaning sewer pump stations more than 1,5 meters deep in very confined spaces.
“This necessitated the appointment of a service provider having the necessary equipment to clean all areas within Dr Beyers Naude municipality, to ensure a clean and healthy environment. Unfortunately, the municipality had insufficient budgetary provision at the time and, as a result, the service provider had to assist with work for which he was not paid for within the prescribed timeframes.”
Safers added that it is worth noting that, as a result of the municipality’s poor financial position, it encountered various challenges with other service providers who requested payments in advance before commencing any work.
Sanitation Services Trucks
Safers also responded to the issue of the trucks that rendered sanitation services in Willowmore and Steytlerville (Baviaans municipality) before the amalgamation of the Baviaans, Ikwezi and Camdeboo municipalities into the Dr Beyers
Naude municipality. These services were subsequently taken over by PowerVac
(now Pollution Control Services) as the financial position of the newly amalgamated municipality did not allow for the maintenance of the trucks. “We applied for a loan during the last financial year to purchase equipment and trucks for service delivery - sanitation in particular - but since there was no response from financial institutions. A tender was advertised, and a service provider was appointed to ensure the continuation of services,” he stated. He added that he can confirm that no illegal appointments were made.
Questions from Graaff-Reinet not answered
Despite the municipality’s failure to respond to Graaff-Reinet Advertiser’s requests for comment on the concerns and allegations relating to Pollution Control Services, Safers stated that he is of the view that the community has been subjected to skewed and biased reporting and that he is, therefore, taking the opportunity to set the record straight.
Unfortunately, the newsletter fails to adequately respond to concerns relating to a large number of tender deviations and the issue of oversight.
The newsletter also fails to comment on the fact that the budget for sanitation services for the 2022/23 financial year has increased by 56%, of which 50% is a one-off increase. Graaff-Reinet Advertiser submitted a request for comment in this regard and is awaiting a response from the municipality.
Regarding the allegation that Pollution Control Services invoiced the municipality for R1.5 million in October 2021, and that this money was used for a particular political party's election campaign, Safers stated that “the municipality cannot respond on money utilised for political matters, but can confirm payments are made to the service providers for work done”. Three requests for specifics on the services rendered by Pollution Control Services for payment of this particular amount were submitted to the municipality, but Graaff-Reinet Advertiser is still awaiting a response.