By Sindisiwe Tshona and Asiphesona Wonqela
Residents of Kingswood, Scotts Farm and the Graeme College area have raised issues of poorly maintained infrastructure, streetlights, lack of housing, and sporting facilities at the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) review meeting on 27 March at the Albany Recreational Hall.
Ward Four resident Harry Pourthen said that after 23 years in the town, Makhanda was “in shambles”.
“I do understand that you are trying to remedy things, but it should have been done years ago…it is not poor infrastructure but poor maintenance. Our residents are suffering. Some have water, and some don’t, ” Pourthen said.
Former Ward Four councillor and resident Brian Farger asked what percentage of the budget had been allocated to infrastructure maintenance. He added that the municipality must give a formal report explaining missing paperwork related to the purchase of pumps and motors for the James Kleynhans water plant, as found in the Auditor General report.
Silvia De Lange, who resides in Curry Street, said street lights were not working and the area was unsafe for residents. “Someone came into my yard, and I could not see them. It’s a risk”, she said.
Farger expressed his sympathy and said not having street lights violates people’s constitutional rights. “I live in a relatively larney area on Seymour Street, and we have no streetlights. It has been about five years… someone didn’t believe me when I said there are about 1000 street lights out in Ward Four,” he said.
Responding to the issue of street lights, Mayor Yandiswa Vara promised to visit the area, assess the situation, and help get the community serviced. She also added that the municipality cares about coloured people and that the residents should not say they do not care about Coloured people.
De Lange added that housing is also an issue. “You say you can’t build houses now, but there are abandoned houses in Scott’s Farm. Why can’t you at least try and renovate them?” she inquired. She added that when it rains on Scott’s Farm, the infrastructure is so inadequate that the houses get flooded.
She added that unemployment is a big problem in the Scott’s Farm area, with youth not working and turning to drugs.
Resident and Makana Sports Council chairperson Dion Hilpert said, “sports is the one discipline that can deal with matters of gangsterism. That can deal with matters of drug abuse and all the other issues that we have in our community,” he said.
In response, municipal manager Phumelelo Kate said he was aware of the shortage of proper sports fields in the town and that the municipality was trying to have a short, medium and long-term solution for the problem.
Kate further responded to issues raised in the meeting by stating that the municipality is overwhelmed by commitments and under-resourced to deliver services. He added that residents and businesses owe the city close to R1 billion. He says while this is the case, he is not making excuses because it is essential to listen to the people and find solutions to those problems. He added that he had heard all the issues and that the municipality would make time to bring solutions.