Municipal spokesman out of touch

I HAVE been following responses by municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki on various topics raised by residents of NMBM published on numerous occasions in The Herald. This is not a personal matter as I do not know the man. However, it is stated that he is the spokesman for the metro, of which I am a ratepayer. Therefore his senseless and often negative responses do concern me as the statements are surely representative of the ANC or his superiors. In The Herald's front page story warning residents about the red tide ("Red tide alert", January 22), the municipality finally conceded "a possibility" that the red tide existed. Thank goodness we have The Herald that has taken it upon itself to print this warning on the front page as who knows how long the municipality would have waited before it would have "confirmed" the existence of a red tide. This of course in the light of Mniki's statement that the municipality was working around the clock to "get to the bottom of this" and the fact that "the municipality is also consulting with the relevant national government departments regarding this matter". Mniki then urges the public "not to panic"! I do not claim to be an expert or have any knowledge of the so-called "red tide" but what Mniki probably does not realise is that the red tide is a phenomenon that is created by nature and not something developed by some foreign party to bring a curse to the people of this city. Whether you "get to the bottom of this" or not there is nothing you or your national government can do to stop it from happening. Therefore my suggestion to you, Mr Mniki, is put your pride and arrogance in your pocket, consult and take heed of the advice from the many local experts in this field as you are way out of your depth as far as this (and probably many other issues) is concerned. This warning should have come from you probably when the red tide was detected by the experts in Knysna already but as usual you have waited until the citizens raise their concerns and then you ask them not to panic while experts from NMMU have stated that the current red tide "is a very unusual event". In another article in The Herald of January 22, "Take bumps away before somebody dies", Mniki states the bumps "complied with standard traffic calming measures" while in previous articles published immediately after these items were installed, many experts claimed these bumps were not designed or intended for traffic measures but more for parking areas, shopping malls and the like. If these were designed and intended for traffic calming measures, why have we not seen these anywhere else? Mniki blatantly denies the municipality had had any complaints regarding the bumps other than those published in the newspapers. At the time these residents' and motorists' complaints were published in The Herald, there were counter responses from the engineer responsible for the installation of the bumps telling people that he would shut down Pier Street if they were to remove the bumps. His alternative suggestion to resolving this was that "residents will have to wait 20 years for a robot to be installed at the intersection". I have it from a reliable source that a resident did inform and had discussions with the relevant engineer regarding the concerns of the residents. Now Mr Mniki, whether you received a registered letter or e-mail or postcard with an official complaint from any residents or not, do you honestly want to tell the residents of this city that the municipality was not aware it had caused a problem when these measures were installed? All you have to do is speak to the engineer. Surely this is not too much to ask of anybody who should be providing a service to the community and the taxpayers whose money actually keeps you employed. In The Herald dated January 24 regarding the new bus system ("What a shambles"), Mniki again attempts to discredit statements by various people, including an ANC councillor. While most call it "a shambles", "the project has collapsed" and how the taxi industry has wrongly benefited from this scenario, Mniki seems to think it is a huge success. Mr Mniki, it's about time you faced the facts: under the municipality's banner, nothing is right. Look at this city through the eyes of its residents and then tell us, "Do not panic, everything is OK". I have yet to see a positive or constructive response on any subject by Mniki. One would expect all statements made by Mniki to be that of his superiors, department heads, ANC councillors, the mayor or his deputy. If this is the case then there should be huge concern from the residents about these people who manage this city's welfare. On the other hand, if these views are those of Mniki himself, we need to ask what qualifications he has that would put him in the position of an expert in almost anything that is thrown at him. George van der Merwe, South End, Port Elizabeth