Services at standstill in no-go areas

Rubbish piles up as metro calls halt amid workers’ fears for their safety

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has suspended services to the Motherwell and Wells Estate areas for the safety of its staff following the violent unrest in the area.

Vonathi Lukhwe, 57, has sewage pooling in the street in front of his home in Mthamvuna Street, Wells Estate
Picture: Judy de Vega

This comes after angry protesters stoned and torched a number of private and municipal vehicles in the protests, which started about a month ago and picked up again last week.

On Tuesday last week, a bus full of schoolchildren and vehicles at the municipal disposal depot on the Addo Road were pelted with stones and petrol bombs.

As a result, two main thoroughfares in the Motherwell area, the Addo road and the R334, were closed for the rest of the week.

Rubbish, which has not been collected for the past three weeks as a result of the protests over land evictions, is piling up in the streets and public open spaces.

There has also been a muted response to complaints about water leaks, burst pipes and power outages.

Residents with service delivery complaints are now having to endure prolonged power outages and blocked sewers because municipal staff are afraid to enter the area.

Ward 60 councillor Mvuzo Mbelekane said he had been inundated with complaints from residents over the uncollected rubbish, electricity problems and overflowing sewage drains.

He expressed concern over sewage pooling in some streets because the pipes have not been repaired. “This is a health hazard.”

He said he did not understand why the municipality had not resumed services, since the protests and violence had stopped and the roads had been reopened.

“Sometimes you feel like innocent people are being punished for the violent protests by the few, yet they had nothing to do with it,” he said.

Mbelekane had to escort a municipal truck carrying electricity and energy staff into Wells Estate yesterday as they refused to enter without his assurance that they would be safe.

The workers had to repair power lines and electricity boxes that had been down for about three weeks.

In Wells Estate, water from a broken drain has flooded Mthamvuna Street and residents complain about the stench.

Vonathi Lukhwe, 57, said: “We cannot even open the windows because of the odour that comes from there. The smell gets worse when there are cars passing because they splash the water into our yards.”

His neighbour’s sewage drain is blocked, spilling effluent all over his yard.

House owner Siyabulela Kali said: “The sewage has been spewing out for the past two weeks. It has not been attended to.”

Residents have also been piling rubbish on open spaces throughout Motherwell and Wells Estate.

Mayoral spokesman Sibongile Dimbaza said the municipality was conducting a safety assessment before services were resumed in the area.

“We had municipal trucks torched by angry residents while rendering services in the area,” he said. “The municipality took a decision to suspend services for the safety of its employees and assets.”

Dimbaza said although the roads were open in the two areas, there was still anger in some communities and he was unable to say when services would resume as the political discussions were still continuing.

“We have not abandoned our responsibilities as the municipality,” he said.

“Service delivery is our core mandate, but we are taking into consideration the safety of our employees first.”

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