City residents who are “gatvol” with waiting for the municipality to repair damaged infrastructure have been warned not to take matters into their own hands.
Yesterday, the eThekwini Municipality said it encouraged residents to report all infrastructure that needed to be repaired, and it would be attended to as soon as possible.
“Residents are discouraged from repairing infrastructure themselves, as this could pose a danger to other residents and properties,” said municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela.
He said the city would try to respond to complaints as soon as it could to initially ensure that the situation was assessed and made safe where necessary.
People have been taking matters into their own hands and their own pockets to repair several roads, bridges, and buildings that were destroyed in the floods.
Almost 500 people died, thousands were left homeless, and large areas in eThekwini Municipality had no access to water and electricity because of the devastation. The cost of the damage has been estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of rands.
Community activist Zain Soosiwala, who coordinated the repair of several potholes on the N3 and in the Overport area, said it was ridiculous that the municipality didn’t want citizens to act when nothing was done even after issues had been reported several times.
“Multiple tyres were blown out several times, because no repairs were done in the area. That’s when we took to the streets to shame the municipality. Why wait for 14 vehicles to be damaged and then take action?”
Soosiwala said, in some instances, existing potholes turned into sinkholes because of the floods.
He said when his organization, eThekwini Secure, rallied people to effect repairs, they were supported by Metro Police, ambulance services and many others to ensure that everyone would be safe while they were working.
Soosiwala said after they filled some of the potholes with sandbags and returned with bitumen and cement the next day to complete the job, they found municipal teams on the scene.
“I took a lot of flak from people who said that I’m making the municipality lazy by doing their work. They also said the money that was set aside for repairs would now just be eaten (stolen) by the municipality.”
Soosiwala said since then, people from as far afield as Kloof and uMhlanga had contacted him to help with repairs in their areas too.
“I see after we started our campaign saying we are gatvol of waiting for the municipality to do their work, others are saying the same.”
Soosiwala was referring to Hannes Coetzee, the owner of a Spar franchise in Thabazimbi, Limpopo, who started selling bitumen to people who were “gatvol” and wanted to fill the potholes in the roads where they lived.
Coetzee told the Independent on Saturday: “People are moaning and groaning about everything. It’s easier to complain rather than to do something about it.”
He said initially, he stocked the bitumen as a joke, but when word got out, the demand increased.
“I’m selling bully beef and Coke in the gramadoelas (wild). It was meant as a bloody joke. I didn’t expect everyone to start talking about this,” Coetzee said.
He said he loved the word “gatvol” because it had two meanings in Afrikaans: first, that he was fed up with waiting for potholes to be fixed, and second, it literally meant the filling of holes.
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