Municipal Manager Moppo Mene says the municipality has obtained the protective equipment required for essential services staff to operate during the coming lockdown under Covid-19 conditions. This follows a warning from the local branch of the South African Municipal Workers union that without the full range of protective equipment and transport, refuse collection will not be carried out.
Grocott’s Mail spoke to SAMWU secretary Wandile Duruwe early Thursday 26 March and reached Mene shortly before midday.
This morning, Duruwe confirmed that refuse had not been collected this week because of workers’ concerns over protective clothing and equipment.
“There are no gloves, no sanitizer, no masks, and not enough protective clothing – overalls and boots,” Duruwe said.
In addition, they needed to be assured of transport to and from work.
“They’ve [Makana Management] known about this thing since the 14th (of March),” Duruwe said. “Yet we were first called to a meeting only two days ago. There was nothing said about workers’ safety.
“No one will perform any duties if those things are not there,” Duruwe said early this morning. “We need to protect our workers.”
Mene on Tuesday confirmed that the Chief Financial officer himself had gone out to source the protective equipment required.
“We are trying to get it from local suppliers, but if not we will have to go to Port Elizabeth,” Mene said. He confirmed then that the lack of rubbish collection on Monday had been over concerns about workers’ safety.
He said surfaces in the workplace were being cleaned with disinfectant.
“We met with SAMWU and IMATU and we agreed that these essential workers are at the coalface and must be protected,” Mene said.
On Thursday he said gloves, masks, sanitizer and overalls had been obtained.
“We did struggle to source these but we have managed,” Mene said. “Our Community Services Director should be distributing these now and this should resolve the concerns.”
WATER DURING COVID-19 MEASURES
Among the concerns raised by SAMWU was that there would be inadequate water to carry out proper hygiene during the Covid-19 pandemic. Grocott’s Mail asked Mene about water in non-reticulated areas, and to rural areas.
“We have a water tanker, and the joint operations committee (JOC) is organizing three Jojo taks to put in areas without taps,” Mene said on Tuesday. These included the informal settlements of eNkanini, Phola Park and Transit Camp.
Deliveries of water to farms would continue when necessary.
“The Department of Water and Sanitation is meeting with staff to ascertain the municipality’s needs,” Mene said.
The municipality announced on Monday that the two days on, one day off water rationing regime would be temporarily suspended due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
In a public statement, Makana said, “[The] water management team will constantly monitor the levels in the reservoirs and close the supply when the levels are very low. However, throttling at 6pm to 6am will still continue.”
This might result in low pressure or outages in some areas and that water might not be available for a full 12 hours during the day “but the team will ensure that water is available every day”.
Residents were urged to ensure that they have stored water all the time in case of any outage.
While the original projection for available water in Howieson’s Poort Dam had been 18 months, without the rationing it was not clear how long the supply would last without further rains.
“We still have to do some number crunching,” Mene said. “We will continue to review the plan periodically.”
Grocott’s Mail visited Settlers Dam on Tuesday 24 March and found it at its lowest yet, the recent rains not having affected the level.