Govt working to stabilise Bekkersdal

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pretoria – Government says it is working to stabilise the Westonaria Local Municipality, especially Bekkersdal, following the recent service delivery protests.

In the last two weeks, Westonaria has experienced service delivery protests. The non-viability of the Westonaria Local Municipality has had an impact on the provision of basic services.

Speaking to journalists in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said there were two issues that government needed to deal with. 

“Firstly, we need to stabilise Westonaria, especially Bekkersdal, so that there is normalcy for the residents; and secondly, we must ensure that matric exams are not interrupted.

“That is why I issued a directive to the MEC for Education that the learners must be moved to a location where they will feel safe and write exams like any other learner in the province,” said Mokonyane.

Bekkersdal falls under the Westonaria Local Municipality, with over 40 000 households, of which 16 000 are in informal settlements. In Bekkersdal alone, there are 13 000 informal households. A large number of these are indigent.

The Gauteng Provincial Government says the database of the indigent is not entirely complete because of the transient nature of informal settlements.

As a result, the municipality has been struggling to provide much needed basic services such as water, sanitation and refuse removal.

Also, the existing sewer system, which was developed in 1945 for a small population, can no longer cope with the increased utilisation and as such, the infrastructure is taking strain.

To alleviate the pressure on the network, Mokonyane said 8 000 VIP toilets were provided to the area, and 5 000 of these are in Bekkersdal.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has also provided sanitation trucks, which are used to service the VIP toilets. In addition, Aqua Jets are used to help with unblocking the sewer network. 

The situation in the last week was further compounded by municipal workers being prevented from doing maintenance work in the area, meaning that the infrastructure has been taking even more strain.

In addition, due to the high population in the area, the municipality hasn’t been able to cope with refuse removal and increasing levels of illegal dumping.

Furthermore, the Demarcation Board has announced the merger of the municipalities of Westonaria and Randfontein.

“It is also our responsibility, as much as we have to deal with the lapses of service delivery, to also ensure a smooth transition,” said Mokonyane.

Intervention

The provincial government’s short-term intervention plan to deal with service delivery lapses includes the immediate establishment of an intergovernmental task team.

The task team will comprise representatives from both the national and provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Departments (COGTA); Performance Monitoring and Evaluation; the National and Provincial Treasury, including officials seconded from other Gauteng municipalities.

The team will work closely with the Westonaria Local Municipality to deal with governance issues and setting up of sound management practices.

“Furthermore, we have negotiated with neighbouring municipalities to provide additional capacity to help clear the backlogs. The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport will provide additional capacity for refuse collection and repairing of roads and other infrastructure,” Mokonyane said. 

She also addressed allegations of mismanagement, fraud and corruption levelled against the municipality.

“We urge the community to utilise the petitions process in the Gauteng Legislature to petition their public representatives. This will be subjected to an investigation and the outcome of that process will inform how we proceed.”

She said government’s interventions must ensure that the community of Bekkersdal has improved service delivery and quality of life. – SAnews.gov.za

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