Protesters halt road construction project

RESIDENTS in Sitaram, Tongaat, brought a local road construction project to a standstill on Tuesday, August 21.

Disgruntled community members claimed that ward councillor Dolly Munien had not consulted with the community about the project.

Ward committee member Qaphela Vilakazi said: “The councillor did not introduce the project to the community. We are not against the development, but all want we want is transparency. Unemployment in our community is rife. When there’s a project in the area, locals expect to get jobs. We are also surprised that in this project the Community Liaison Officer (CLO) has not been appointed. The councillor must call a meeting and address the community.”

Ward committee member Mthandeni Phiri said the local ward councillor’s responsibility is to work in partnership with the community and structures of the ward community that she represents.

Tensions mounted when Munien threatened to cancel the project. She also denied that workers working in the protect were members of the DA, saying: “I took two volunteers from my office, IFP gave me two people and the local farmer Prakash Mathura gave me another two people from the community where the project is taking place. The contractor wanted 12 people to work in the project. The other six came with the contractor. The contractor of the project said, according to the protocol of the department, there was no need to have a CLO for the project.

“ I had a meeting with community representatives and Phiri was there. He did not raise any objections in a meeting held on August 11 at the Tongaat municipal offices. I then gave it a go ahead after all parties agree that the road has long been forgotten and it was high time that something is done about it,” Munien explained.

She accused the ward committee members of sidelining her when they make decisions. She claimed that the representatives of the ward committee give jobs to people without consulting with her as ward councillor.

Local headman only known as Maphumulo urged the community not to stop the project.

“The councillor must come back to the community and launch the project officially. In the meantime, let’s not disrupt the project because it has already started. We all want our roads to be upgraded,” he said. A community meeting to address the issues that surfaced in relation to the project is expected to sit this week in Tongaat.