Community stops sewage project for its schools

Pietermaritzburg residents say they want houses to get priority

By Nompendulo Ngubane

Photo of a crowd
Residents in France, Pietermartizburg, stopped a sewer project on Tuesday. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

A municipal project which started a week ago to improve sewerage at two schools in France, Pietermaritzburg, has been stopped by members of the community. The residents say the schools should not be prioritised for sewers over residents. They were also unhappy about the hiring procedures of workers to carry out the project.

On Tuesday, residents prevented the workers from starting construction. The schools to benefit are Slangspruit Primary, Mvuzo High and Mpumelelo Primary.

Mduduzi Hlongwane, chairperson of the People’s Housing Process in ward 13, said the municipality had promised residents a R70-million sewerage project at a meeting three years ago.

“They must do what they promised us. We were told the project would benefit all of us. Residents still use the bucket system toilets. It’s been 21 years,” said Hlongwane. “They don’t even empty these toilets. Now they introduce a project only for schools. This project will not continue until the municipality gives us answers. We want to know what happened with the project, they promised.”

But ward 13 councillor Sibongile Mncwango said she had called a meeting to inform the residents about the project. She said the project is also for ward 18. “I asked them if they agree with the project starting with the schools. They had an opportunity on that day. Stopping the project is not helping anyone,” said Mncwango.

Resident Sbusisiwe Ndlela said there were unemployed members of the community who had been hoping to be hired for the project. “We are seeing people who are not from this ward. One of the reasons we are stopping the project is favouritism in hiring. They should hire local people. Most people in this ward are unemployed. We are poor,” said Ndlela.

But Mncwango said, “Working together with the ward committee and ward assistants we called a meeting. People who came to that meeting were hired. We cannot take all the people, but of those who came, some are working.”

Spokesperson for Msunduzi Municipality Thobeka Mafumbatha said, “The decision to prioritise the two schools was taken in consultation with the members of the community of both wards 13 and 18. Such a consultative process is the norm with any project prior to its implementation and is done by the respective ward councillors.”

Mafumbatha said the waterborne sanitation project covers schools and households. She said the municipality’s water and sanitation unit is making requests for budgetary provisions in order to roll out the project to households as per its business plan.

“The project is being implemented in phases in accordance with the funding allocated. The Reticulation Project that is currently being undertaken is at the cost of R4,875,163 … The poor condition of toilets in these schools had to be taken into consideration. Therefore the municipality was not aware that the residents had concerns regarding the current project which is going to provide proper sanitation in the schools attended by their children,” she said.


Published originally on GroundUp .

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