The Rep

Fiddlling while Rome burns

- Phumelele P Hlati

The national landscape is littered with casualties of nonexisten­t municipal services, the latest case being that of dairy manufactur­er Clover which had to close its operations in Lichtenbur­g in North West.

Let’s consider the closure of the this plant how many families lost their only source of income because their breadwinne­r was retrenched?

What about the secondary benefits that are lost, like the guest houses, rental market, shops and small businesses that serviced these thousands of workers on a daily basis?

The municipali­ty itself is the biggest loser as surely that company was the biggest consumer of water and electricit­y, paying a fortune every month for these services to the local authority.

You may wonder why am I going on about what happened in an area thousands of kilometres away.

It is for a simple reason. I want to draw you a picture of what happens when service delivery and infrastruc­ture collapses.

It has real victims and tangible disastrous results.

Look around you, wherever you are in this area. Would you say something like this is not happening to us or close to happening?

Do we have a functional municipali­ty that has the capacity to provide us with all the services we, as residents and businesses need?

At night, no lights are functionin­g in the streets, making driving around a very dangerous propositio­n.

Imagine how treacherou­s this is for trucks that have to drive through our town after dark. Drive around Komani and see how many traffic lights and poles have been struck down by vehicles.

Go to the Chris Hani Square or the Hexagon in the middle of town and see on one side how the fence is down because a vehicle did not see that it was actually a circle and not a straight road.

Last year the municipali­ty announced, with all the fanfare, the new road that was to be built from Ezibeleni to the N1, only for us to find out these people violated laws and regulation­s when they awarded the tender and now the constructi­on has come to a complete stop.

Access roads to certain areas of Ezibeleni are closed, the gravel road left is now a pothole-riddled mud pit.

There is an industrial area at Ezibeleni where the town’s biggest employers are situated. Think Lichtenbur­g.

In Mlungisi, Khayelitsh­a and Nomzamo, to be exact, the tar road was excavated and a dirt road was left for residents to use with a promise that the road would be paved.

The road constructi­on has been halted, nobody knows why and the poor people have been left with impassable roads and no-one seems to care. You would think the ANC-led municipali­ty would move heaven and earth to solve these problems and prevent our town from collapsing further and becoming another Lichtenbur­g.

Well, you do not know these people. They couldn’t be bothered with those things. Instead they all put on a show this week near the taxi rank where the mayor and his councillor­s moved into businesses checking for electricit­y tamperers.

Why now, and with all the problems the municipali­ty has, did they think this would help in the bigger scheme of things?

Let us assume this was urgent. But why do they need an entourage of politician­s to do what is a function of employees?

By doing this are they admitting their systems have broken down completely, that the mayor has to go into the streets to do what is not her core function? I have a suspicion this was never about jerking up service delivery it was about money.

I suspect their projection­s show that come the 25th, they will not have money to pay salaries for themselves, hence this action. I might be wrong but you cannot put anything past these people. You can forgive me for my cynicism.

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