The Democratic Alliance in uMngeni has written to the Municipal Manager, Ms. Thembeka Cibane, regarding the inhumane conditions that the residents of eSthendeni in Nottingham Road are being forced to live under.
In October 2017, uMngeni Municipality’s refuse removal employees refused to remove the hazardous excrement waste from the area surrounding Transnet/eSthendeni informal settlements in ward 3. The employees cited that they were not trained nor equipped in the removal of this kind of waste. Council recommended that the administration source the services of a company qualified to remove hazardous waste – a move supported by the DA.
As a result, the municipality went to tender and appointed Valotec, which commenced in November 2017. However, in recent months the municipality terminated Valotec’s contract. Since the termination of that tender the municipality’s Waste Manager has refused to service the community of eSthendeni due to the fact that his team does not have the requisite skills and equipment to remove the hazardous excrement waste.
It is inexplicable that the contract was cancelled without a “plan B” being put in place. The Municipality has a responsibility to protect and serve its residents.
The DA as well as concerned residents and NGOs have sent through numerous requests for the municipality to develop permanent solutions to the untenable waste situation that residents have been subjected to. To date, these requests have fallen on deaf ears as the ANC-led administration remains unmoved by the potential health risk involved.
We have given the Municipal Manager seven days for her and the Technical Services General Manager to develop a permanent solution, failing which the DA intends to write to the South African Human Rights Commission to lay a formal complaint. Should the municipality still not comply, the DA will explore options of opening a case against the Municipal Manager.
It is beyond comprehension why the Municipality’s Technical Service department does not see the urgency to address this environmental and health hazard.
Section 152. (1) (b) and (1)(d) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa,1996 respectively state that the objects of local government are to:
(b) Ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner
(d) Promote a safe and healthy environment.
The consequences of the Technical Services department’s failure to address this issue points to a failure of the Municipality to discharge its constitutional mandate.