The City of Tshwane is grappling with problem of illegal power connection by people who have hijacked landfill sites, resulting in the metro losing an estimated R148 million in the past five years.
The concern was raised during a recent meeting of the municipal public account committee that summoned senior officials from Environment and Agriculture Management Department to account for the loss of revenue.
Committee member and ANC councillor, France Boshielo reminded officials that the committee had undertaken site visits to various municipal landfills, where they had discovered that there was no electricity.
He added that the City continued to experience a serious problem with revenue collection.
The department’s report, Boshielo said, indicated that the projection of revenue collection was R114m.
However, the revenue realised was only around R85m, which meant there was the variance of R 29m.
Boshielo pointed out that the department was unable to repair weighbridges at landfill sites owing to lack of money, and no budget for them in the last five years.
“This means that based on the information that we have, we have been losing the revenue of R148 million for the past five years when we were not repairing these things,” he said.
He expressed concern at the department’s stance at a time that the City needed money for basic services.
A committee member, Aaron Maluleka wanted to know if officials from the department were scared of people who had hijacked the landfills.
“If you are scared of them, tell us because they are killing officials these days,” he said.
Maluleka suggested that in the event there was a threat against officials, the City should make security plans to protect them.
In response, head of the department Abel Malaka said: “It is well-known that our landfill sites in terms of parameter and security are actually lacking. Obviously when that is lacking the entire operation will be compromised and that is the case in this nature.”
Maluleka said his department had recommended the decongestion of the sites, which should also be properly secured.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are throwing our hands in the air. If you look at the revenue generated in the period that has been requested by this committee there was a variance of R29m outside the projection of R140m that has been projected for the sites,”he said.
Maluleka added that the department had alternative plans to repair the weighbridges.
He, however, said efforts to repair weighbridges would be futile with problems related to security and parameter fencing as as the presence of unauthorised personnel still in place.
“We are using the manual system in terms of collecting revenues. Yes, I will agree that there might be gaps in the manual system because there might be people who are sneaking through the sites without paying,” Manaka said.
During the committee site visit last year, it was discovered that since 2015 a landfill site in Soshanguve township had operated without electricity due to illegal power connections made by residents from neighbouring informal settlements.
The facility had no power supply due to cable theft, a backlog in terms of compacting waste because of recent heavy rains, and a broken machine.
The weighbridge was not working and informal waste pickers at the Ga-Rankuwa and Soshanguve landfill sites were exposed to health hazards because of mobile toilets located next to where the pickers cooked.