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Residents up in arms over jobs

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Local residents were never considered when it came to the awarding of jobs for projects.

UNRESOLVED: Ritchie residents continued their protest action yesterday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

UNHAPPINESS over the appointment process for a R49 million road project in Ritchie saw residents barricading roads in the area with burning tyres and rocks yesterday.

Community members complained that the sub-contractors appointed to work on the 29km road were not appointed on merit.

The residents also accused two local councillors of appointing only their friends and family to work on the project.

“There were unfair processes followed in the appointment of the sub-contractors. Those sub-contratctors were appointed without consulting the community. There are many people within the community who are equipped to work on the project yet they were not appointed. Only friends of the councillor were appointed on this project. We have found out that even the community liaison officer (CLO) is a relative of the councillor. That is not right as many people in this area are without work,” the angry community members said.

A community member, Neville Felix, said that local residents were never considered when it came to the awarding of jobs for projects.

“There are skilled and qualified people who are sitting at home with no work. There are also opportunities where people can be trained but that just never happens,” said Felix.

“Currently, there are two people working as firefighters. The other day a house burnt down and those firemen could not extinguish the fire or help the owner of the house as they did not have the manpower to do so. There are many people who could have been trained to become firefighters in order to fill those positions.”

Other community members yesterday also pointed a finger at the Sol Plaatje Municipality, claiming that the local authority had failed to deliver adequate services to the community.

“The municipality does not provide any services here. The sewage is running down our streets and we are forced to live with the stench on a daily basis. We have complained to the municipality about this matter but nothing is being done to address it.”

They added that the municipality had also not met promises made to provide them with housing.

“We were promised that we would be getting new houses. We are still staying in shanties, yet during the elections in May this year we were promised houses. Those promises were never delivered.

“We have been fighting for houses and services for many years. This place has not received an upgrade for several years. There are no parks or any places where people and the youth can enjoy themselves. Creating recreational spaces is another way the municipality could provide work for the community.”

The community meanwhile vowed to shut down the town should the sub-contractors not be removed from the project.

“Work on the road will not continue unless those people are removed. We are tired of these unfair practises. We can no longer sit back and keep quiet about injustices. We will root out all fraudsters,” they warned.

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie said that the issues of sewage and water have been a huge problem for the local authority.

“In Motsedimosa we had to replace a sewage pump that was not working. That pump could not pump sewage to the plant and that created a problem,” said Matsie.

He added that they recognised that unemployment was a local as well as a national problem.

“We understand the socio-economic problems in our areas. We always encourage contractors to employ locals when working on projects. We are, however, not involved in the road project,” Matsie said.