The municipal strike action has left city residents and businesses, who have been complaining about a lack of service delivery from the Sol Plaatje Municipality even before the start of the strike, fuming with some threatening to withhold their municipal service fees
WHILE municipal employees downed tools this week, fed-up city residents and businesses have said enough is enough.
Sol Plaatje Municipality workers belonging to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) went on strike on Tuesday morning, vowing to bring service delivery to a standstill.
The action followed a meeting between Samwu and the municipality on Monday this week.
The workers indicated on Tuesday that they would bring all municipal service points to a standstill until this coming Monday, and Thursday morning workers threw sewage at both entrances of the civic offices, as well as setting tyres alight.
The municipality’s licensing centre, housing offices, refuse collection service, rates tellers and workshops have remained closed, although talks were held on Thursday between union representatives and the Sol Plaatje management.
The strike action has left city residents and businesses, who have been complaining about a lack of service delivery from the local authority even before the start of the strike, fuming with some threatening to withhold their municipal service fees.
One resident pointed out that this was the third week that refuse had not been collected in her ward, which includes Catersglen, Lindene and Rhodesdene.
“Eventually two residents took it upon themselves to remove the bags and it took them a total of nine trips. There is always some excuse (from the municipality) – the one week it was because they were sanitising the trucks after an employee tested positive for Covid-19, then it was the strike. At the end of the day, however, residents are paying for a service that they are not receiving.”
She added that she would prefer paying a private contractor to collect her refuse bags “because then you know that it will happen”.
“Currently every week residents are scrambling around trying to find out if they should put out their bags or not because they have become so used to the idea that they cannot rely on the municipality.”
The manager of a city business in Halkett Street, Masicebise Business Solutions, pointed out that sewage had been bubbling out of his drain and flooding the entire area since the weekend. “I have tried repeatedly to call the municipality but there is no answer.”
He said that while the manhole was situated on the business’ property, the blockage appeared to be higher up in the system. “We sit with the same problem every four to six weeks and the municipality sends someone out to unblock the network but it appears to be a temporary fix because it is not long before it blocks up again.”
He added that this week, however, no one has come out. “The sewage is lying thick all around the property and we have had to put down bricks to make a pathway from the road into the business. It is an absolute mess and the stench is horrific – no one can do business under these circumstances.”
He said that when someone did eventually answer the phones at the municipality, they refused to log his call. “The woman said that there was no point and we would have to wait for the strike to be over. At least if they logged my call, I know I would be in the queue but she refused.”
A resident of Stock n Stock said he had been left without electricity since the weekend.
“I noticed on Sunday that the bracket outside my house had been stolen or removed.” He said he went to the municipal offices on Monday. “The woman who helped me kept saying that the electricity had been disconnected and I had to try and convince her that it was the bracket outside that had been removed.”
He said that eventually on Wednesday someone came out. “He said he would be back later to replace the bracket but he is still coming and in the meantime I have no electricity.
“I have had to get rid of everything in my fridge.
“All we get from the municipality is lies, lies and more lies. They don’t care – they don’t give any reason for not coming, they just don’t arrive. They cannot use the municipal strike as an excuse because this is an emergency and they are supposed to have emergency personnel on duty. What if someone in my house was reliant on an oxygen machine and we didn’t have electricity?”
Many other residents have resorted to expressing their frustrations regarding overflowing drains, burst pipes and illegal dumping on ward WhatsApp groups, with calls to start ratepayers’ group and boycott payments to the municipality.
“I think it is time that we stand together and start a ratepayers’ association with a lawyer who controls everything. Then we can hire qualified people who can and want to do the work. Sol Plaatje can then continue to strike and not work because it seems that this all they are good at,” one resident stated.
Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci) CEO Sharon Steyn added yesterday that organised business had also had enough. “Business is tired of being held hostage by the municipality.”