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Police to guard big clean-up

Rubbish accumulates outside the Johannesburg high court. Picture: Chris Collingridge

Rubbish accumulates outside the Johannesburg high court. Picture: Chris Collingridge

Published Mar 28, 2016


Johannesburg - Collecting the rubbish which has been piling up on Joburg’s streets for nearly four weeks during the strike has now been deemed an essential service.

Amid threats and attacks on workers contracted to clean up, the City of Joburg has said its manager, Trevor Fowler, had instructed the chief of Joburg’s metro police department (JMPD) to provide the necessary protection services to escort and protect the appointed waste collection service providers.

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This was in line with sections 64 B and C of SAPS Act No 68 of 1995, according to the city.

Pikitup has been paying R1-million a day to hire private contractors to pick up refuse and a security escort to prevent attacks on them by unknown individuals since the strike began.

The city’s acting spokesperson, Nkosinathi Nkabinde, said escorting by JMPD officers would ensure that the clean-up campaign takes place without any further disruption.

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“The city manager was acting in terms of section 71 of the Labour Relations Act, which identifies collection of refuse left uncollected for 14 days or longer, whether domestic, or on public roads and open spaces, as an essential service,” he said.

The city has mobilised all possible resources, including people and equipment from various other departments, utilities and entities, to clean up to avert potential health risks.

Nkabinde said Joburg mayor Parks Tau, in his regular inter-governmental relationship meetings, had last week briefed representatives of organised communities, church groups, property developers and organised business on the city’s strike-recovery plan.

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He appealed to faith-based organisations to use the holidays to help mobilise congregants and community members to heed a call to participate in the city’s efforts to maintain a healthy and clean environment.

Tau and the member of the mayoral committee responsible for infrastructure services and environment, Matshidiso Mfikoe, have re-emphasised the city remains firm that unprotected work stoppages and trashing of the city can never be justified.

They said the current stoppage by the South African Municipal Workers Union members contravenes the spirit and the letter of a groundbreaking politically facilitated agreement brokered by the Gauteng government in December.

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Nkabinde said the agreement included specifically committing the parties to a cessation of hostilities. Mfikoe said the city remained committed to the agreement and ensuring all employees were fairly treated and compensated.

She said, however, that this could only happen in a normal environment where workers are back at work, affording the mandated parties the opportunity to reach agreement.

While it appears that there’s still no end in sight to the Pikitup strike, members of various communities rallied together during the Easter weekend in an attempt to clean the streets.

The clean-up was done mainly in Zandspruit, Alexandra and the inner city, with smaller suburbs also joining in the initiative.

Pikitup handed out cleaning tools, gloves and bags for these community-led clean-ups and assisted with the subsequent removal of the bagged waste.

In Alexandra, the clean-up was marred when a temporary refuse collection crew were attacked on Saturday night after the local community volunteered to clean up their immediate environment.

Two of Pikitup’s trucks were attacked and damaged, and seven crew members injured.

The attack happened in 8th Street when a group ambushed refuse truck drivers.

Two people were arrested at the scene.

“These ongoing criminal acts of intimidation and violence make it enormously difficult for cleaning of the city to take place,” said Pikitup spokesperson Jacky Mashapu.

He said the utility was pleased to announce that communities were embracing a call to a clean up in response to refuse or illegal dumping being left uncollected due to the ongoing unprotected work stoppage by Samwu-affiliated Pikitup employees.

“Many calls have been logged by communities to clean up the city. Also, other city departments and entities, under the leadership of the city manager, have come together in a joint effort to support Pikitup’s efforts,” he said.

At the start of the Easter weekend, all the depots had already made remarkable recovery of refuse collection service and the situation was being reviewed and monitored on an ongoing basis, he said.

Appointed service providers will prioritise the clearing of illegal dumping sites in densely populated areas, sites used to deposit excess waste, such as garden sites, and illegal dumping sites reported to the hotline.

The workers are striking for an increase in salary and are demanding the resignation of managing director Amanda Nair, who they accuse of corruption and nepotism.

Pikitup has two interdicts against the striking workers and is awaiting a judgment from the Labour Court as to why Samwu should not be held in contempt of court.

Call for volunteers

Pikitup is looking for volunteers in the security sector, neighbourhood watches and community policing forums to assist in the delivery of waste management to complement waste collection and security teams in a safe environment.

Log on to the Pikitup website on to check the list of temporary and permanent holding areas for the disposal of waste.

Residents can download the JRA Find&Fix app from the Google Play Store and use the “general” icon to report hotspots.

Residents can also report to a 24-hour hotline on 011-286-6009 or email [email protected] The hotline can be used by organisations to request cleaning tools, gloves and bags for community-led clean-ups and removal of bagged waste by Pikitup.

The Star

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