Refuse piles up as waste staff strike over heavy boots

Refuse bags piled up along the streets of the city since last week after Msunduzi waste staff downed tools in protest over new safety boots they had been issued being too heavy.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the staff were unhappy with the provision of “heavy” Bova safety boots, saying they preferred those manufactured by Lemaitre.

“The matter was immediately dealt with via stores and the feedback from the manager was that the Lemaitre boots will be supplied when the stock is available,” she said.

Mafumbatha said the staff had returned to work by Friday but a list of those “defaulting” was being compiled and the appropriate action would be taken.

“There is still a huge backlog and this will be addressed over the next few days along with the regular collection rounds. We have requested 22 additional EPWP staff for Saturday, to clear the backlog. All services will be regularised by Monday and the impact on services is regretted,” she said.

The affected areas included Wembley, Prestbury and some sections of the central business district.

Ward 26 councillor Ross Strachan said the lack of technical capacity, financial support and poor management is due to the waste department being moved to the City manager’s office. The unit was moved from community services by the suspended municipal manager, Sizwe Hadebe.

“The lack of consistent and constant collection leaves the City in an absolute disgrace and proves to be a health hazard of the highest proportion and ultimately a service that is inconveniently not rendered to our residents,” said Strachan.

He said there was a lack of technical skills and the capacity of competent officials to manage and the deteriorating fleet was also a major factor.

Prestbury was cleared on Friday, and waste management teams were seen collecting some of the trash along Hoosen Haffejee Street on Sunday afternoon.