After a taxing 2017, which saw the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality fail on some of its key promises such as job creation and improving infrastructure, Weekend Post reporters Siyamtanda Capa and Nomazima Nkosi unpack six of the key issues facing the metro.
The long-awaited eradication of the bucket toilet system and municipal rates increases are just some of the crucial items expected to be on this year’s council agendas.
In the next financial year, residents can expect a rates increase within the inflation target rate.
Budget and Treasury political head Retief Odendaal said the minimal increase was in line with the municipality’s aim to bring the city back to a place where it had competitive rates.
The high rates tariffs saw outrage from ratepayers last year after it emerged the city had the most expensive residential rates in the country.
“Unfortunately we had no choice. We want to bring the city back to a place where it has very competitive rates,” Odendaal said.
He said they would look at all miscellaneous tariffs in an attempt to slash some tariffs in half.
He said the municipality would determine the increase once the budget was finalised.
The draft budget will be taken to public participation and is expected to be tabled in council by March 31.
This year, the municipality will pursue those implicated in the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reports.
City manager Johann Mettler said the investigation had been concluded and the reports finalised in December.
The municipality appointed auditing firm PwC to investigate the irregular appointment of litter pickers as well as irregular payments made to Milongani Eco-Consulting firm.
Several municipal officials who were implicated in the report were suspended.
Mettler said both reports would be tabled in council, first going through the municipal public accounts committee later this month.
“I am investigating disciplinary charges on the implicated parties.
“I want to charge them as soon as possible because the investigation did take a long time because of the nature and the severity of the offences.”
Mettler said he would pursue charges before the end of next month.
While the municipality is looking for a R750-million loan to solve its infrastructure woes, it also needs a capital budget of R500-million to repair the city’s ailing infrastructure.
Infrastructure, engineering and energy head Masixole Zinto said the R500-million would maintain existing projects such as the Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme and the Fishwater Flats Wastewater Treatment Works.
The city in December invited interested financial institutions to bid for the loan.
“The loan will be applied to water metering, pipe replacement, pressure management and sewer infrastructure provision,” Zinto said.
The municipality’s mid-term performance report for 2017-18, released this week, showed it had failed to employ young people through municipal-funded employment projects.
Executive director for corporate services and human resources Vuyo Zitumane said the municipality was working on increasing the number of people absorbed by the labour market, adding that Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers were central to everything.
“We want to create jobs through procurement processes and we’re also giving 30% of work to SMMEs, who in turn employ EPWPs in various wards. We want to ensure that there are labour-intensive measures that are going to absorb these workers,” she said.
Zitumane said the metro planned on reaching its target of EPWP workers through all of its projects.
As part of its plans for job creation, economic and tourism development head Andrew Whitfield said the metro was working towards investment incentives and was looking at increasing the budget allocation.
“We are working towards establishing a trade and investment hub to serve as a one-stop shop for investors to set up in Nelson Mandela Bay.”
Whitfield said they would continue supporting small business through business centres such as the Enterprise Development Centre in Veeplaas.
He said a similar incubator would be launched in Uitenhage soon.
The municipality is threatening to install flow meter restricters this year should households not reduce their water consumption after dam levels dropped to 25.62% this week.
This is the lowest level in the history of the city, according to mayor Athol Trollip, who said the municipality had no choice but to introduce the punitive measures.
The new restrictions also state that all domestic users using more than 30kl per month will be given four weeks’ notice to fix leaks or reduce their water consumption.
Should they fail to do so, restricters would be installed to limit their water usage.
Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said discussions were under way about the latest dam levels.
He said an aggressive awareness campaign was in place to inform people about the water situation.
Factories, hotels, schools, churches, street advertising, bus advertising, radio and television advertising are some of the means to get the message out.
With less than six months to go to meet a self-imposed deadline to eradicate the bucket system, more than 8 500 residents are still using bucket toilets.
This is a slight improvement from the 12 333 figure in September.
Infrastructure, engineering, electricity and energy political head Masixole Zinto said he hoped the deadline would be met.
He said construction at various sites to speed up the process was progressing substantially.
“Planning is in place to meet our deadline and we’re looking at constructing RDP houses, installing communal toilets in informal settlements, installing chemical toilets and also individual toilets on sites,” Zinto said.
During his inaugural address, Trollip said: “As the mayor of our new government, I undertake to provide dignified sanitation to all communities by the end of 2017.”
This deadline was then shifted to June this year.