Drunk employee compounds Hazyview water crisis


MBOMBELA – Hazyview’s water woes are ongoing and it has come to light that a drunken plant operator contributed to the most recent water interruptions.

The town recently suffered a three-week spate of supply interruptions, which have been attributed to poor main-tenance, a shortage in staff capacity and oversight, and a lack of intervention in critical times.

The matter was again raised by ward councillor Mr Ken Robertson during Mbombela Local Municipality’s (MLM) ordinary council meeting on September 29.

Mr Ken Robertson.

Mr Ken Robertson.

Attached to the agenda was an SMS written by a plant manager to the municipal manager, Mr Noko Seanego, explaining that they “have employed a more responsible operator from White River to assist with the night shift in Hazyview to help recover from the situation with the drunk operator over the weekend”.

Disciplinary processes have been instituted against the individual. General poor infrastructure maintenance was identified by MLM itself in its Integrated Development Plan for 2015/16.

At Tuesday’s meeting, one of four ordinary meetings held by MLM per annum, where councillors could submit questions, petitions and motions, Robertson requested the maintenance schedules of the water and sanitation infrastructure.

“For the past 18 months, pumps have consistently been burning out.

“The maintenance schedules would show the reason for the damage. We can’t keep repairing pumps. We need to investigate the reasons for the breakages,” he says.

However, executive mayor Cllr Sibusiso Mathonsi requested to be allowed to respond on the matter at the next ordinary meeting.

Cllr Sibubiso Mathonsi.

Cllr Sibubiso Mathonsi.

Robertson said, “We need answers now. I have submitted these questions in advance. This has not been going on for a week, but for eight or nine months.”

He also suggested that another service provider, such as Sembcorp Silulumanzi or Rand Water started providing water to Hazyview instead of the municipality. Another grave concern raised by Robertson was the lack of communication with residents of water interruptions.

He said his constituents wanted answers from him, but even he was sometimes not informed, compelling residents to have to communicate with officials directly.

“I have even tried the presidential hotline,” Robertson said. “You cannot say that communication is not a problem.”

Robertson, however, accepted deferral by the mayor, who in turn agreed that council investigates setting up a 24-hour hotline, where residents can report emergency service-delivery challenges and complaints after hours.

“The hotline will give all residents a platform to report their challenges with service delivery, but a delay in this hotline will keep residents further from their government,” Robertson said.

Mireille de Villiers

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