By ANNA MAJAVU
More than R21 million earmarked for infrastructure, including roads, in Makana municipality has been taken back by national government because the municipality failed to spend it.
This was revealed at the Makana municipality’s Infrastructure Development Portfolio Committee meeting on 9 February.
The municipality had failed to spend the money last year, and applied to national treasury for it to be rolled over so that it could be spent this year. But treasury rejected the request and has not replied to an appeal made by the municipality in October 2022.
Angry councillors slammed the municipality for underspending the money.
“We don’t want what happened in Queenstown (the recent total shutdown of Komani) to happen here. People are starting to panic in the townships about service delivery and I don’t want us to go back again to shutting down the town because when we did that, businesses lost a lot of money” said Makana Citizens’ Front (MCF) councillor Lungisa Sixaba.
The Unemployed Peoples’ Movement said after the meeting: “it is ridiculous. Infrastructure has collapsed in our city and yet there is money sent back to Treasury because the municipality did not spend it. People must be held accountable. The problem with this municipality is that people get away with murder because no-one is ever held accountable” said a UPM spokesperson.
At the meeting, the municipality’s Electricity Manager, Mzomhle Radu, also described disastrous delays in municipal procurement.
Radu said not enough oil was procured to run municipal vehicles. He added that a roof sheet on the Seymour electricity substation had been stolen three weeks ago, and although the electricity department ordered another one immediately, it had not arrived.
“With these rains, we have had to switch off the substation. As managers, we lose hope on issues, we are demotivated. We pop out money from our own pockets for oil. At Kingswood, we are a laughing stock. They provide us with five litres of engine oil. We can’t respond to our customers. Even in emergencies we cannot respond timeously because of procurement (delays)” said Radu.
DA councillor Luvuyo Sizani described it as “very disgusting and embarrassing for a customer to provide five litres of engine oil for an institution of this size. That is a disgrace. The community out there wants to see a difference. People are complaining the town is dark. The electricity department doesn’t have street light bulbs, but how much is one bulb?” he asked.
Asanda Gidana, Director of Engineering and Infrastructural Services at Makana Municipality, also revealed that Makhanda is facing a bill of R400 million to fix potholes in the the town’s most used roads alone. However, the department of Transport has only agreed to contribute R50 million, which is enough to pay for repairs to “three or four streets” only, Gidana said.
The meeting also heard that a desperately needed street light upgrade had been moved to the next financial year.