Home News Sol ’has a mountain to climb’

Sol ’has a mountain to climb’

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Sol Plaatje executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni said income was dwindling, where negative cash flows were projected over the long term.

Lydia Tekisho was appointed as the acting municipal manager at Sol Plaatje Municipality during a special council meeting on Monday. Picture: Danie van der Lith

SOL PLAATJE executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni said income was dwindling, where negative cash flows were projected over the long term, during an annual budget meeting for the 2022/23 medium-term expenditure framework this week.

He indicated that cash generated from operations was declining to “a mere R1 million” according to the most recent audited financial statements.

“It will require strong leadership and support to turn things around. We are clearly not departing from a position of strength.”

This is while employee costs make up 71 percent of the annual budget.

Sonyoni instructed municipal officials to pack their bags if they were not prepared to listen to the concerns of the community.

“If anyone is uncomfortable being of service to the people of Sol Plaatje Municipality, they are free to leave.

“It has become commonplace that when communities raise issues, the political offices are the first to respond while the implementers of services are nowhere to be seen.

It is worrying to observe how some of our officials avoid by all means to meet with and interact with our communities.

“There is an impression created that some of the senior officials in the municipality have no regard or respect for the communities and thus do not see themselves as accountable to these communities.”

Sonyoni said that all officials should be held accountable for non-performance before matters were escalated to the political office.

“If we allow them to hide behind politicians, this culture will never change.

“We need to understand and appreciate our roles as both councillors and staff in the municipality, we are servants of the people and must therefore accept that we will at times be at odds with them as they make demands on us. We, therefore, cannot encourage a culture of intolerance when those that are paying for our salaries make demands on us and put us under pressure to respond.”

Sonyoni added that the costs for the provision of water, sanitation and refuse removal were funded from revenues generated from tariffs.

He highlighted the inability of the municipality to execute and implement programmes within the stipulated time frames.

“This has often resulted in the municipality forfeiting funding for implementation of critical developmental initiatives aimed at improving the infrastructure of the institution.

“We need to tighten this area and ensure that we create adequate internal capacity for implementation of projects and ensuring that there is accountability in a case where there may be under-performance.”

He stated that it was imperative to prevent funding that was allocated towards service delivery challenges from being returned to Treasury due to under-expenditure.

Sonyoni noted that the current challenges included 60 percent bulk water losses emanating from dilapidated infrastructure, the ageing and dilapidated water and sanitation infrastructure that was not coping with the growth of the municipality, degenerating road infrastructure that was being eroded by running water and sewage, dumping, the outdated billing system, lack of growth from business and residential areas, low revenue collection and the slow pace of addressing service delivery issues.

“Clearly, the municipality has a mountain to climb if we are to deal with the above challenges and successfully gain the trust of the community once again.”

He said Sol Plaatje municipality was one of 39 intermediate city municipalities in the country.

“We have a sustainable but stagnant revenue base, 69,000 households with municipal accounts, and approximately 400 business and government. At the occasion of tabling the budget, reference was made to an urgent need to grow the revenue base. The major rates revenue contributors are commercial properties that contribute R220 million towards property rates.

“Residential property has a market value of R22 billion contributing an amount of R218 million in property rates revenue. The public service infrastructure with the market value of R2.3 billion contributes approximately R118 million towards property rates and taxes.”

He added that the general valuation roll was currently standing at R36 billion, generating a total of R603 million in property rates and taxes.

“These are set to increase by four percent from July 1, projecting total revenue of R627 million from across all property categories.”

He indicated that the vandalism and deteriorating state of the 34 sewage pump stations, a shortage of staff and sewage blockages were resulting in the spillage of raw sewage.

“Management of the 34 pump stations requires a dedicated team that comprises of general maintenance workers for cleaning and screening, mechanical fitter and an electrician for daily maintenance. We have currently started the establishment of this team, however, an electrician is still required.

“Maintenance is still, however, on a reactive basis, and teams only attend to repairs when pump stations are reported to be out of operation.”

Sonyoni stated that the 650-kilometre sanitation network was manned by six blockage teams.

“There are only four teams that are operational while more than 30 blocked sewers are reported daily. There are instances where blockages are complex, which can take days to unblock. The lack of human resources and reliable equipment results in an ongoing backlog in terms of sanitation.

“With the growth in terms of population, the current sewage pipe sizes are insufficient to meet the demand that contributes to the sewage blockages.”

He added that they were in the process of increasing the capacity of the Gogga pump outfall sewerage line to reduce service interruptions caused by frequent pipe failures.

“The pipeline was dilapidated and prone to causing blocked sewers in Galeshewe and Homevale. The project has been completed and approximately 4.5 kilometres of sewerage pipeline has been upgraded.”

Sonyoni said services including toilet structures, water supply, block paved streets, underground stormwater and underground electricity supply would be provided for 4 654 houses in Lerato Park.

He indicated that there was a serious backlog in attending to leaking water pipes.

“Non-revenue water for the 2019/20 financial year is at 62.3 percent losses, which equates to R 68 million per annum. We cannot allow the municipality to regress any further as at the rate it will approach 70 percent non-revenue water losses.”

Sonyoni said there were no staff to fix or replace broken leaking water metres, due to vacant metre technician positions and a shortage of pipe-fitters.

“This results in water leaks never being attended to, as there is no staff to attend to it.”

He indicated that no claims for flood losses incurred had been paid to date, while flooding challenges were being experienced as a result of increased rainfall and a stormwater system that was not able to cope with the high volumes of water.

“We also have families that continue to frequent the municipality with demands that their claims against losses emanating from the floods be paid, none have been paid to date and the cause of the problems remains unresolved.”

Sonyoni added that they were securing funding to complete work on Kagisho dam in the next financial year.

“This includes the settling of the disputes with the current contractor so that we bring about closure to this matter and lobbying for the return of funds for the stormwater project.

‘Funding will also be secured for the resealing of the key economic roads in the municipality in the next three years.”

He stated that the municipality was embarking on a street naming project for settlement areas in Soul City, Lerato Park, Diamond Park in Greenpoint, Santa and Ramorwa shanties, Witdam and Snake Park.

Members of the Sol Plaatje Municipality council are seen during a special council meeting held today on Monday. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Budget summary of the medium-term revenue and expenditure framework projects over the next five years:

Total revenue: R14.2 billion

Total expenditure: R14.1 billion

Operating expenditure budget: R59 million

Municipal and general budget: R358 million

Estimated revenue generation: R20 million

The BEAR project to enhance economic development: R45 million

Infrastructure and services: R1.4 billion

Employee costs, inventories and bulk purchases of water and electricity – 71 percent of the budget

Electrification of Lerato Park: R33 million

Carters Glen sewer pump upgrade: R21 million

Roads infrastructure: R55 million

Electrical infrastructure: R18 million

Water supply infrastructure: R64 million

Sanitation infrastructure: R57 million

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