Kindling for zealous arsonists

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GK CRONJE

15 March 2022

One would assume that the stream of vacancies advertised by MLM for horticulturists, groundskeepers and other positions relating to parks and grounds maintenance, Ermelo would be a beacon of neatness. This is, however, not the case.

The neglected state of Msukaligwa Local Municipality’s council grounds have long been a topic of discussion, with residents learning to deal with the repercussions as best they can. A prime example is the sordid state of the open fields and crossings within the municipal jurisdiction. With the dry season approaching, it is but a matter of time before the annual cases of arson rears its fiery head. Despite several enquiries directed to MLM as to why the grounds are left to their own devices, no answer has been provided. One would assume that the stream of vacancies advertised by MLM for horticulturists, groundskeepers and other positions relating to parks and grounds maintenance, Ermelo would be a beacon of neatness. This is, however, not the case. Motorists and pedestrians have to crane their necks at intersections within the wards to see past the grass taller than a vehicle’s roof, stray cattle leap from the shrubbery into oncoming traffic, and opportunistic criminals have convenient camouflage from the eyes of law enforcement and neighborhood watch.

Once these fields are set alight, the thick bellows of smoke is a whole other kettle of fish, with road users and pedestrians being in equal danger due to the poor visibility that comes with the smoldering grass. Moreover, embers being carried during these field fires pose a danger to residences within the wards, which could easily catch fire during dry season. While MLM departments simply mow the field corners of selected intersections to make it easier to sport oncoming traffic, this is but wool over the eyes of ongoing service delivery failure issues. Unfortunately for wards already facing electrical infrastructure collapse, a large amount of electrical kiosks are shrouded in the tall grass.

When this kindling lures a arsonists with an itchy finger, scores of residents are left in the dark as the kiosks are damaged beyond repair. In turn, this causes extensive expenditures on MLM’s books... And so the cycle of financial infeasibility continues.