R587m for BCM upgrades
On the corner of Union Avenue and Oxford street, a decently dressed young man sits under the robots in the basking sun holding a South African identity document and white cardboard written, “Please help me get a job, to not be poor like this. Please Africans”.
Earlier during the Urban Coastal Mayoral Imbizo at the Jan Smuts Stadium, Buffalo City Metro Mayor Xola Pakati announced that R87 million has been set aside to upgrade the City’s roads and a further R500 million has been borrowed to fix and build new sewage lines.
However, over 1 000 citizens who gathered at the stadium lamented that economic and small business development should be prioritised simultaneously with service delivery. They shouted that lack of employment opportunities from their own Metro is puzzling, as it was upgraded from a municipality.
A Duncan Village mother and grandmother made an emotional plea to the Mayor to ensure that the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP), initiated in 2003, be better managed as it is filled with corruption and favouritism.
EPWP employs hundreds of unemployed and unskilled citizens of the Metro as it was intended to provide decent and sustainable through inclusive economic growth.
It was mandated by Cabinet to create work opportunities across infrastructure, on-state, environment and cultural sectors.
“Men are busy abusing us and our children sexually and physically, the City is busy abusing us with hunger. We were employed for two years until March when money supposedly ran out. When I went to claim for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), the municipal HR told me that I am still employed. While me and my colleagues waited to be called again, other people got hired to do the work we were doing. Are we voting for poverty, for our children to go to bed hungry?" asked Nobathembu Mcilongo supported by a loud cheer from almost everyone in the tent.
Questions from the floor largely touched on the EPWP and its management, with most claiming that the Imbizos are scripted every year, but none of its promises is ever fulfilled.
“I think you guys are just tired, and there is no time for that, you have to work hard for the city, as your banners claim,” added Mcilongo.
Pakati assured that the city is hard at work, ensuring that people have proper roads, sewage systems and decent housing.
“The Fleet Street road project has been completed after its many hassles. We need to finish the Beacon Bay to Gonubie road, in order to unlock development within these two suburbs. In addition, a lot of houses have been built, but we are experiencing problems with land and house invasions. The Development Agency is working on two beachfront projects that will improve our economy,” detailed Pakati.
He promised that once sewage lines have been completed in areas such as Scenery Park, Westbank and Amalinda, close to 10 000 houses will be built in this financial year. Services will also be provided for all areas that are lagging behind with electricity and water.
“We are finalizing the 2 870 houses meant for the Westbank Restitution and the Amalinda Co-Op. In Duncan Village, we are done negotiating for 952 units, the Reeston Phase 3. We need to build 5 000 units. The relocation is complete, and we will demolish the old houses as requested by the people,” he said.
He highlighted the cleanliness of the city as an issue that is evading them. He urged citizens to support the Green Deeds programme and City initiatives such as the recent acquisition of twenty trucks to clean up illegal dumping sites. Rubbish bins will be placed in all streets around the municipality.
“People must assist us to ensure that their neighbourhoods are kept clean, we must reclaim our title as a clean city,” he said. The Imbizo was the last of four held in Mdantsane, King Williams Town, Ncera village and East London.