Can a new leader rescue eThekwini’s DSW and Durban as it rots in dirt?

Rubbish can be seen littering the corner of a street in the Durban CBD. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Rubbish can be seen littering the corner of a street in the Durban CBD. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Sep 21, 2022


Durban - Ratepayers in Durban, or ‘Dirtbin’, as the City has commonly become known in recent times, has suffered blow after blow when it comes to waste management and the administration of Durban Solid Waste (DSW).

From corruption, lack of fleet maintenance to the total collapse of depots across the metropolitan, it is hard to argue the fact that DSW has failed Durbanites when it comes to punctuality, consistency and doing what they are paid for - collecting the trash.

But now, as former head Raymond Rampersad announced his resignation from the company just under a week ago, we are yet to find out if a new leader will be the solution to the ailing waste manager.

Opposition leaders and the deputy mayor of eThekwini, Philani Mavundla, weighed in on the changes at DSW and how it will affect the level of service delivery going forward.

Mavundla, who is also the City’s chairperson for the Human Settlements and Infrastructure cluster, said that one person could not be blamed for the “filth in eThekwini”.

Mavundla admitted he was equally to blame.

We asked Mavundla if he thought a new leader at DSW could change its current trajectory, which is in the throes of collapse.

“The state of affairs at DSW started turning around when we started our programme of cleaning at night, followed by our Spring cleaning that the cluster will keep going until the entire eThekwini is clean,” Mavundla said.

“The very same Spring cleaning as being taken to all affected areas this Thursday, we are taking our campaign to uThongathi,” Mavundla said.

IOL also asked him how the extra commute to Illovo, on the south coast, just to drop off dirt, constituted effective service delivery.

DSW has been forced to transport the dirt collected in the City to Illovo because of the state of Chatsworth, Clairwood and Springfield park depots.

Mavundla said: “Yes, we are taking waste to Buffelsdrai and Ilovo, however the City has gone out to tender for a disposal site in Shongweni. The capacity of this site will accommodate 265 000m3 translating to 3 years of dumping space/capacity by the time the second dump site will be completed.”

Councillor Nzamo Billy -- the DA’s deputy caucus leader -- said the “sudden resignation” of Rampersad raises suspicion. He said there were hopes of a turnaround at DSW.

IOL asked Billy what he thought needed to be done about the three non-functional depots in the city.

“There are serious challenges with regards to the inadequate DSW refuse fleet and staff complement in the entire city,” said Billy.

“All the above depots also suffer as a result of this. The simple solution will be to provide these depots with refuse trucks and resources. The municipality must invest more on replacing the old fleet in order to have less breakdowns, and start to spend less on maintaining dying refuse collection vehicles.

“The municipality must also employ more people to assist with waste removal, instead of paying millions of taxpayers’ money on the same employees as overtime. The municipality spent over R150m on overtime costs in the past financial year, and this is completely irregular and unacceptable. Lastly, the municipality must take action against employees and managers who refuse to work or embark on illegal strikes,” Billy said.

Leader of the African Democratic Change, Visvin Reddy, said Rampersad’s dedication and commitment were unparalleled, and that he suspected the former head had left due to political reasons.

He said the decision to cut overtime pay may have been the final straw for Rampersad at DSW.

“eThekwini has lost a number of qualified, competent and experienced senior officials over the years, and they would be difficult to replace. I suspect they left because of political Interference.

“Most officials, including senior management, have been appointed with the tacit approval of the ANC.

“Now that there are divisions within the majority party, there is no centre and officials are caught in the middle.

“Rampersad has been vocal about his constraints within DSW, including on issues like lack of funding and resources,” Reddy said.