The delegation led by Cllr Jonathan Annipen, flanked by Bernard Gabela and city officials.
Tongaat has been the talking point of most media recently, after protracted water cuts wreaked havoc on the communal and close-knit town.
Angry residents took to the streets last week in protest hoping to get the attention of the powers that be.
While local ward councillors tried to calm the situation, the irate residents would hear nothing of it. Last Sunday, a mob of disgruntled protesters blockaded the streets by burning tyres, toppling trash cans and even ejected the local councillor.
Among their concerns were the issues of regular water cuts without an explanation from the municipality, insufficient alternative water supply mechanisms when water is cut off for days, the poor rotation of the water tankers which are dispatched and ailing infrastructure that the eThekwini Municipality has failed to refurbish.
Minority Front councillor, Jonathan Annipen, who was called by Tongaat residents to help resolve the crisis said that it was unacceptable that human beings had to be subjected to these erroneous conditions in an age where so much of information is available to remedy almost any of the complexities of post-modern civilization.
“The issue at the Tongaat Water Treatment Works is not a new one. This issue has been ongoing for a substantial amount of time. People have been given an insurmountable list of excuses and very little recourse action has been taken. The sad reality is that many officials themselves are at a loss and cannot provide any information about what actually causes the frequent water cuts. The customer call centres, which are supposed to effectively calm despondent callers instead instill fury, anger and frustration with their robotic responses. The community of Tongaat deserve better. Unfortunately, the government of the day seems to have no remorse for the injustice they cause to our people,” he pointed out.
Residents in the area believe that they are being targeted because they have not voted for the ruling party and as a result their plights for service delivery have fallen on deaf ears.
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Local community activist, Mavis Naidoo, said that she has been working with the community for a long time and it is evident that people in the area are not taking seriously.
He stated, “Each time, there is a crisis in the community, the councillors cannot be found. City officials are always away on leave or abroad on business while this community remains victimised. In many instances, I have tried to locate the councillors but they become very threatened and defensive. Other officials just give you lame excuses and cannot be trusted.”
Cllr Annipen added that when the community revolted last Sunday, it was clear that more needed to be done as tensions were rising and people were contemplating mass action.
“When I got into the area on Sunday, it was apparent that people had had enough. They were not willing to listen to anyone’s excuses neither was I going to defend the incompetence of the city any longer. I know that more had to be done so I immediately contacted senior officials from within the city to address the city. I also revived my previous correspondence to the South African Human Rights Commission asking for their immediate intervention because matters were anger was reaching astronomical heights. Subsequently, I led a delegation of community members and other stakeholders to a meeting with high ranking officials within the department of Water and Sanitation,” he added.
Among them was a leading engineer in the city who provided insightful information about the plans the municipality have to rectify the problems.
The city assured the delegation that the problem would soon become a thing of the past as they were currently completing their action plan to ensure that in cases where heavy rainfall contaminates the tepidity levels of the water and when load-shedding compromises, there are other reasonable alternatives and faster turnaround strategies to provide clean drinking water to the affected areas.
“The officials also took cognizance of the fact that there were not enough tankers to service the affected areas in the past and apologised for the poor coordination in circulating tankers,” he said.
In an effort to eradicate the issue, senior manager of the unit, Bernard Gabela, said that they would work with the dispatch centre to find an appropriate way to manage the problem.
He welcomed the suggestion that a detailed schedule type practice should be followed where the controller has a list of the name of the tanker drivers, their contact numbers and the location were these drivers will be dispatched to.
“To the credit of the tanker services, I must add that they responded kindly even under extreme provocation. However, I am looking forward to the changes that will take place in this area. Finally, I want to assure the community that I will do everything possible to ensure that the promises made by the department, which include the provision of JoJo tanks which will be refilled regularly as well as better turnaround times, will be policed by the Minority Front. As a party, we understand the dynamics of the area and the gravity of the situation and whilst others may accuse us of bolstering and politicking our aim is to merely assist the community if Tongaat,” said Cllr Annipen.