Gross service delivery failure while grants remain unspent

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GK CRONJE

21 September 2021

Instances like these are extremely concerning in a province with huge infrastructure backlogs because it robs deserving residents of much needed service delivery. A municipality which is in financial distress can never be in a position to deliver services to its residents.

The shocking negligence from Msukaligwa Local Municipality (MLM) regarding the maintenance of the sewer system in Ermelo and surrounding areas, leaves many residents to grimly deal with raw sewage, and the stench and health risks associated with clogged sewer pipes. The sewer system in President Fouché Avenue has been neglected to such an extent that raw sewage bubbles from the manholes on an almost weekly basis. This area has been in the spotlight since 2014, and even earlier, where complaints are filed weekly but no hearing is given from MLM. No actual effort is made by MLM to solve the problem. To the bitter frustration of residents in the face of this mess, MLM, as well as ward councilors, wash their hands of it, with the relevant department of MLM half-heartedly unblocking the sewer pipes, instead of taking immediate action and solving the bigger problem of the infrastructure. MLM has even gone as far as to dig trenches to divert the sewage to the middle of the field, a tactic which has failed, as the sheer amount of sewage overflowing from the network lines the streets and soaks the fields and wetland. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has also taken notice of the ballooning sewage pollution from MLM, and now calls on the Mpumalanga provincial government to intervene and help municipalities like eMalahleni and Msukaligwa as they are financially distressed and not in a position to deliver proper services to residents.

“As revealed in the 2019/2020 Auditor-General’s (AG) report, Msukaligwa Local Municipality faces deepening financial crises which makes it difficult for them to provide services to residents. The AG noted that the municipality incurred a net loss of R76 348 177 during the financial year 2019/2020, and also that the municipality’s current liabilities exceeded their current assets by R923 548 805. Msukaligwa Local Municipality has either faced infrastructure backlogs, or projects were completely abandoned. Failure to spend their Conditional Infrastructure Grant (MIG) is also a cause of great concern. The situation is even made worse by the fact that there is lack of monitoring and oversight from provincial authorities. Msukaligwa Local Municipality has not utilized 95% of the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant. Instances like these are extremely concerning in a province with huge infrastructure backlogs because it robs deserving residents of much needed service delivery. A municipality which is in financial distress can never be in a position to deliver services to its residents. The DA will write to the MEC of COGTA, Busisiwe Shiba, asking her to intervene and assist the municipality.”

Residents only have to be content with the faint excuse that they blame the constant problems on the fact that many homes are being illegally built and extended, without the approval of a building inspector or town planner. Other excuses include a lack of finances, lack of tools and machinery, and a series of other ridiculous bogus stories. MLM has also indicated in the past that expanding the number of residents is obviously overloading the already dilapidated sewer system. This is of little comfort to residents, and the complaints, investigations and the fact that MLM has been fingered as a main polluter of the Vaal Dam, rolls off the municipality like water from a duck’s back.

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