The eThekwini Municipality said that crime, a lack of photocells and avoiding residents experiencing “prolonged periods of darkness” are the main reasons why it leaves the street lights in Phoenix, north of Durban, energised all day, every day.
The concern around the street lights staying illuminated for 24 hours a day was brought up during the meeting between the Municipality and Phoenix residents to tackle the constant water outages.
IOL was made aware that during the meeting, one resident stood up and asked the City why it left the street lights on all day.
A City representative replied, saying that it is done to ensure that they are in a working state.
IOL asked the Municipality to clarify what it meant by this or if people physically drive around to monitor the state of street lights.
Municipality spokesperson Mandla Nsele said the lights stayed on because of three things, mainly theft, with the Phoenix Highway becoming a hotspot with regards to vandalism and theft of street lights.
“Many street lights in Phoenix remain illuminated (on) 24 hours a day due to the prevalent issue of infrastructure theft. To deter criminals from tampering with street light circuits, these circuits are intentionally left energised,” Nsele told IOL.
“Currently, there is a shortage of photocells, as the contract to supply them has expired, although a new contract is currently being developed. Photocells play a crucial role in regulating the activation and deactivation of street lights, ensuring their operation during both day and night.
“Consequently, it is necessary to maintain the illumination of certain street lights to prevent residents from experiencing prolonged periods of darkness.”
IOL shared the City’s response with Alice Govender, who heads up the Phoenix Civic Movement.
Govender said the Municipality’s response was laughable and showed there were no signs of intentional and purposeful leadership on the part of the City.
Govender agreed that criminals were stealing street lights including the poles on a daily basis to sell them at scrap metal establishments.
“Those comments are baseless and beyond silly. How can we expect to have any level of service delivery or trust, when the people tasked with providing services on such a high level speak in this manner,” Govender said.
“Yes, we have street lights that are cut down daily and the ones that remain, stay on by pure miracle, if I had to be honest. It is only a matter of time before the criminals cut them down too.
“That being said, I do not understand how the Municipality can say it leaves the lights on to keep us from experiencing darkness. I do not think the leadership of this City can lead us into a space where we can confidently say Durban is a world-class place.”