Home News Lerato Park protest put on hold

Lerato Park protest put on hold

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Community members had earlier this week threatened to escalate their protest action if Sol Plaatje Municipality did not attend to their demands.

Lerato Park residents earlier this week threatened to escalate their protest activity if the municipality does not attend to their demands. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE LERATO Park community protest was put on hold on Wednesday.

Community members earlier this week barricaded the Barkly West road as they demanded that outstanding work be completed on an electrification project that was halted last year.

The residents had threatened to escalate their protest action if Sol Plaatje Municipality did not attend to their demands and get the contractor to return to the site.

On Wednesday, the residents decided to put the protest on hold and to “keep a close eye on developments” after the municipality brought in a truck with fencing material for the promised site camp in the settlement.

The residents are hoping that this will be the starting point for the electrification project to resume after the contractor packed up and left the site in 2021, reportedly due to non-payment by the municipality.

The truck was accompanied to the settlement by municipal officials on Wednesday, after it spent the night at the Roodepan police station after the protesters chased it away on Tuesday morning.

The residents on Tuesday demanded to engage with mayor Kagiso Sonyoni and the main contractor.

The community wants clarity on the labour hiring process and the payment process and a commitment from the contractor that the work will be completed this time.

The protest action had started on Monday morning when community members barricaded the entrance to Lerato Park at Roodepan and Barkly West road.

The road running past Lerato Park was barricaded with bricks and burning tyres. Picture: Danie van der Lith

According to the community members, they were frustrated and tired of calling meetings and going to the municipality for answers after the electrification process was halted last year.

They accused the municipality, as well as the main contractor, of lying to them and of continually postponing the date for the project to resume.

After the municipal truck was chased away on Tuesday, Sonyoni made an appearance at the settlement and committed that work will start on the project next week.

This was after Sol Plaatje Speaker Nomazizi Maputle had also made a commitment to the community on Monday that a site camp would be set up by Friday.

The community now wants clarity on the municipality’s role in the electrification process.

According to them, they never received any clarity on what exactly led to the contractor abandoning the site.

They said that the contractor had claimed that the municipality had not paid him. The municipality, in turn, said that the contractor was suspended for 84 days.

“Then, all of a sudden, we saw the contractor packing up and going,” said the community members.

The community also wants clarity from the contractor as to who will be hired when the project resumes and how much the workers will be paid.

They want to appoint their own community liaison officer (CLO).

They plan to call a community meeting on the weekend for further engagements if the site camp is completed on time by Friday.

“If the site is not finished by Friday, we will go back to the streets and this time it will be more intense,” they warned.

“We want transparency in the hiring process. We are not going to allow the contractor to bring his own labour while we are hungry.

“It seems like the contractor is hiding away while the municipality covers for him.”

Picture: Danie van der Lith
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