Protests spell disaster for municipality

A GROUP of community members protesting outside the municipal building in Harding last Wednesday disrupted municipal operations, resulting in most areas falling under the Umuziwabantu Municipality being subjected to water outages.

Since last week, the protesters have closed entrances to Ugu municipal offices and water treatment plants, preventing workers from entering their work stations.

It is alleged that countless meetings were convened by the leadership of the municipality with the protesters where demands of employment of Harding residents to all the occupied positions of truck drivers and general workers were made.

According to the municipality, it became abundantly clear during the meetings that the protesters were determined to cause a complete shutdown of municipal services in the area.

This comes at a time when the municipality is faced with the challenge of water shortages in the Umuziwabantu area due to drought.

During a media briefing on Wednesday, Ugu District Municipality manager DD Naidoo said the community wanted the municipality to employ fifteen general workers and nine drivers.

He said it was unfortunate that residents of Umuziwabantu will, during this period, be subjected to dry taps due to the actions of a group of members of the community who are holding the municipality under duress.

“Municipal mayor Mondli Chiliza had convened a meeting with Amakhosi on Tuesday and leadership of Umuziwabantu Municipality to acquaint them with the challenges faced by the district municipality in discharging its obligation of providing communities of Umuziwabantu with water,” said Naidoo.

Alternative supply has been secured to ensure that communities are supplied with water.

The municipality has, meanwhile, declared the Harding area a local disaster area.

“The ongoing community protest has the potential to cause these initiated measures to collapse, which will result in a complete shutdown of water supply in all areas under Umuziwabantu,”said Chiliza.

“Understanding the plethora of the challenges faced by communities during this period, we will strive towards ensuring that sanity prevails in the ongoing stalemate and, where possible, continue to work diligently with the limited resources at our disposal to ensure that service interruptions are minimised,” he said.

The municipality is currently engaging with law enforcement agencies to assist in dealing with possible acts of sabotage to the municipal infrastructure and prevalent acts of intimidation.