Merebank community live with sinkhole left open by eThekwini contractor

Merebank residents said this sinkhole was left open three weeks ago. Picture: Willem Phungula

Merebank residents said this sinkhole was left open three weeks ago. Picture: Willem Phungula

Published Nov 3, 2023


Durban — Residents in Merebank, in Durban south, said the eThekwini Municipality’s failure to spend its R1.2 billion infrastructure grant was affecting their community the most.

They expressed anger on Wednesday towards mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and the city manager whom many opposition parties in the council blamed for the collapsing infrastructure.

Residents showed the Daily News broken sewerage pipes they said the municipality had failed to fix since they were reported two years ago. Resident Navin Singh said the community has reported 54 related sewerage problems last month alone but nothing had been repaired.

Singh pointed out a three-week-old sinkhole on the narrow road which he said was dug and left open by the City’s contractor. He said the hole was a serious danger to motorists since street lights were not working – a driver had already plunged his bakkie into it.

He said the contractor had come to fix the broken water pipe but left the hole open, and a big heap of debris on the side of the road. Residents were shocked when they saw another contractor loading the debris on the truck to use it somewhere, instead of putting it back to close the hole.

“I do not think the Merebank community exists in the mayor’s eyes. Here we are sitting with the problems we reported two years ago and last month alone we reported 54 sewerage-related problems but nobody seems to care about us. We were shocked to hear that the City had to return R1.2bn to the Treasury because it failed to spend. The effect of the City’s failure to spend infrastructure grants is worse here in Merebank,” said Singh.

A bakkie got stuck in a sinkhole in Merebank left open by a municipality contractor. Picture: Supplied

Another resident, Sagie Munsami, said he has a manhole on his property that overflows every week.

Singh said the community had planned to boycott paying for rates but were disturbed by the court order against the Westville Ratepayers’ Association. Singh said the Merebank community’s problems had grown worse since the appointment of DA councillor Sithembiso Ngema to the legislature. He said Ngema, who lived in Lamontville, was their lone voice in the city council, but now that he had left they did not know who would attend to their problems.

Ngema, who is also the DA deputy provincial leader, said it was the party’s decision to deploy him in the legislature but the party had assigned councillor Thabani Ndlovu to serve the Merebank community. He said the biggest problem at Merebank was the City’s failure to fix the two pump stations, which had not been working for two years.

“To deal with sewerage problems once and for all at Merebank, the City must fix the two pump stations,” said Ngema.

At the council meeting on Tuesday, Kaunda said the City had asked the Treasury for a roll-over of the R1.2bn. He blamed the Treasury for giving the city the infrastructure grant only three months before the deadline, arguing that it was practically impossible to spend such a lot of money within three months. The mayor was expected to further explain the matter in a media briefing which he called for Thursday.

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