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City sparkles no more

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OPINION: When looking around, it is clear that Sol Plaatje Municipality has steadily, consistently, and habitually failed our Diamond City, writes Danie van der Lith.

Potholes filled with water are a common sight in Kimberley. This one on Schreiner Street can’t be missed. Picture: Danie van der Lith

IT WAS a great relief to South Africans when the National State of Disaster was lifted recently. Citizens of Mzansi breathed a sigh of relief . . . without having to draw that breath through a face mask.

That’s the good news, but there is another disaster plaguing our city. When looking around, it is clear that Sol Plaatje Municipality has steadily, consistently, and habitually failed our Diamond City.

Wilkinson Road. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Nobody can deny that Kimberley, the “city that sparkles”, has completely lost its shine. You don’t need to go far to see that; just poke your head out your door and look down your road. Or, if you are fortunate enough to be living in a pretty decent street, get into your car and take a short drive around your suburb and you will no doubt see what a mess the town and surrounding areas have turned into.

A large pothole in Trommel Road is filled with cement blocks and stones. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Service delivery is non-existent or if it is delivered it is few and far between. And here is the head-scratcher . . . if you look at how many people work for the municipality, then – on a workforce to workload ratio – this city should actually be sparkling.

There are several significant concerns plaguing our once beautiful city, and we could go on at length about them but let’s focus on the two that are a real eyesore – potholes and leaking pipes.

A large section of Long Street has been damaged, with several big pieces of tar lying on the side of the road. Picture: Danie van der Lith

It has become clear that the City of Diamonds can now be renamed the City of Potholes. There is no denying that. Everywhere you drive with your vehicle, you have to dodge a pothole, and far too often cars have to come to a complete standstill, just to carefully creep through the cavernous craters. If you drive in a straight line on Kimberley roads, you must be visually impaired, because there are potholes all over.

St Augustine Road. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Just like potholes, leaking and burst pipes are everywhere. Some leak for months while others have been leaking for years on end and it seems like there is no end in sight. We have learned to live with it, even though the city’s residents pay so much for water and service delivery.

To add insult to injury, the Sol Plaatje Municipality has recently put Kimberley back on nightly water shutdowns due to the reservoir not being able to maintain its healthy water levels. However, if you look around, it is clear why they can’t maintain those levels.

The water needed to raise those levels is running down streets all over the city.

Raw sewage flows down the streets of Roodepan. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Now, what is worse than a pothole and leaking pipes? Well, it’s when they meet and get married. When the water from the leaking pipe flows into the pothole, making it a hidden disaster waiting to happen.

While driving in Roodepan during the week, I saw evidence of what can only be described as utter negligence from the Sol Plaatje Municipality. Turning into Starling Street, I saw water gushing from a burst pipe. Not leaking, not gurgling, not flowing . . . it was gushing!

“This has been gushing like this for three months now, we have called everybody, but nobody comes to fix this,” one tuckshop owner said. Driving further down the street to where the traffic lights are, sewage water, as well as fresh water is seen covering massive potholes while flowing down the street.

Sewage and fresh water cover large potholes in Starling Street in Roodepan. Picture: Danie van der Lith

The good news is at least it’s not disrupting traffic. The bad news is that the reason it’s not disrupting traffic is because vehicles cannot use that intersection anymore and are forced to use alternative routes.

Sewage and fresh water cover large potholes in Starling Street, Roodepan. Picture: Danie van der Lith

According to Sol Plaatje Municipal spokesperson Thoko Riet, the municipality have temporarily stopped the sealing of potholes. “We had run out of funds while we were busy with sealing. We are now in our new financial year and the municipality will embark on the fixing of potholes throughout the city.

“We urge motorists to drive with caution, especially when driving at night.”

The municipality also acknowledges that there is a challenge of water leaks. “We have been investigating where some of the leaks come from. Some are underground leaks, but our technical teams are investigating the primary source of these leaks,” Riet said.

“Burst pipes are also rife in winter with old infrastructure being a contributing factor. However, we are doing what we can to repair the crucial bursts, and at times it will not be on record time due to the resources we have at hand at that time.

“Residents are also urged to call the call centre on (053) 830 6111 to log a call, and not to call waterworks directly as that may also delay the response from waterworks to repair.”

Wilkinson Road. Picture: Danie van der Lith
St Augustine Road. Picture: Danie van der Lith
Large deep holes are covered with water in Reserve Road. Picture: Danie van der Lith
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