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R500m to fix city

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Premier Zamani Saul has vowed that no potholes, water leaks or sewage spills will be visible in the streets of Kimberley by the end of this year.

Premier Zamani Saul. Picture: Danie van der Lith

HALF a billion rand will be invested by the Northern Cape provincial government, in partnership with Sol Plaatje Municipality, in an attempt to return the sparkle to Kimberley over the next 12 months.

Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul said, during a media conference yesterday, that R500 million had been budgeted to address infrastructure challenges such as sewage, road infrastructure and water leakages in the city.

Saul has vowed that no potholes, water leaks or sewage spillages will be visible in the streets of Kimberley by the end of this year.

Saul pointed out that the city’s infrastructure challenges had resulted in growing anger among residents and several protests in communities across the city.

“We have been engaged in a workshop that aims at looking at the best way of responding to some of the service infrastructure challenges that are confronting our capital town, Kimberley,” said Saul.

“We are concerned about the service delivery challenges that are facing Sol Plaatje Municipality. These service delivery challenges are causing a great deal of discomfort among the residents of this municipality. They also generate an internal anger that leads to protests and blockages of internal roads, which makes it difficult for people to attend to their daily business.

“We have been in a series of meetings with the district municipality, as well as the local municipality, to work on ways of how best to address these service delivery challenges. We are immediately making R500 million available as an urgent intervention. This is the biggest investment ever made into one municipality.”

Saul said that R215 million had been allocated to fix potholes and sewage and water leakages as well as to clean the city.

“During the demonstrations that have been taking place in the city, three issues have been raised. These issues include the quality of internal roads, sewage spillages into household yards and the issue of water spillages. We have experienced pipe bursts throughout the city. R180 million will be spent on dealing with potholes and road maintenance. A further R20 million will be spent towards addressing water and sewage leakages and R15 million will be spent towards cleaning the city,” said Saul.

The premier added that a large part of the budget will go towards addressing the city’s housing challenges.

“R71 million will go towards temporary residential units for the residents that were affected by the recent heavy rainfalls and floods. We had some extraordinary rainfall two months ago that left severe damages to houses. Of the R71 million, R44 million will be spent in the Sol Plaatje municipal area.”

“R144 million will be allocated to the ground-breaking Hull Street Social Housing Project. This will go a long way in addressing the fundamental challenges of human settlements in the city. R37 million will go towards the establishment of 2,933 sites. Out of those total sites, 1,314 will have services installed. We will by the end of this year make available 1,314 serviced sites for people to put up their own houses.

“Our human settlements project is now focused on ensuring that we give people serviced sites where they can put up their own houses.

“R53 million has been signed off for the purchase of land next to the N12 on the way to Johannesburg for mixed housing settlements. This will also help us to address apartheid’s spatial settlement where people were located far from town. This will ensure that people are located closer to the main economic activities and closer to their workplaces.

“In addition, a purchase agreement had been signed for the Eskom building to the tune of R16 million to address social housing needs. Social housing needs are important for young professionals and newly-weds.

“This housing intervention will go a long way in addressing the housing demand.”

Saul said that the city will from next week look like a construction site.

“We intend to bring the spark back to the city. This investment will be immediately implemented and we expect the city to be turned into a construction site, where every pothole will be fixed and water and sewage leaks taken care of.

“We further commit that by the end of this year, there will be no pothole in and around Kimberley. Residents will from next week struggle to get to work due to road blockages caused by construction work and not road blockages due to protests.”

Saul added that a task team had been established to ensure that the allocated budget is spent correctly.

“In view of the technical capacity challenges at Sol Plaatje Municipality, we have established an implementation task team (ITT). The team consists of engineers from the Department of Roads and Public Works and the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, as well as engineers from the district municipality, Frances Baard, and the local municipality.

“This team will be convened by the senior adviser in the Office of the Premier, Norman Shushu and will include the three MECs, Bentley Vass, Abraham Vosloo and Fufi Makatong, and the two mayors, Wende Marekwa and Patrick Mabilo. The ITT will also include senior officials from the provincial Treasury to ensure that each and every cent we invest goes into the projects intended and not into the pockets of individuals.

“This team must report to the Office of the Premier every week. I want a weekly report and schedule of activities from the team every Friday, which we will make available to communities so they are informed about the work we are doing.”

Saul called on community members to refrain from vandalising public infrastructure.

“It does not assist us to pump in so much money to build and maintain our infrastructure while we have certain community members who are directed at vandalising the infrastructure. It is not municipal infrastructure but public infrastructure. We make a clarion call on citizens to protect our municipal properties and to report such incidents to law enforcement agencies,” he concluded.