Community Municipal News

Corruption and incompetence leads to biohazard

Michele du Plessis.

The ongoing battle to get Graskop’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, (WWTP), and Sewer Substations, (SSS), in correct working order is ongoing. With little or no feedback from Thaba Chweu Local Municipality, (TCLM), the Graskop Rate Payers Association, (GRPA),and the Graskop Chamber of Business and Tourism, (GCBT), continue to struggle to get this health hazard seen to by the powers that be.

GCBT Service Delivery Representative and GRPA Spokesperson, Gareth Johnson relates, “We all have personal experiences of corruption and incompetence. A Gauteng traffic official leaning through the window of my car, trying to claim rights of vehicle confiscation due to a cracked windscreen, is amongst those I recall. I was gracefully offered the opportunity to, ‘talk like the Big Men, hey; like Mr. Zuma!’”

He refers, “Thaba Chweu Local Municipality, (TCLM), continues to side-step Water and Sanitation Service Delivery in Graskop. We are embroiled in the language of “Big Men”, or Fat Cats as we might refer to them. Leaders who are unable to stand up and be counted.”

According to TCLM, the Wastewater System’s problems started around February / March 2019. In the 2012 Integrated Development Plan, there were budgeted upgrades to the Graskop and Sabie Sewer Substations, (SSS), and COGTA makes recommendations in a 2017/ 2018 report to TCLM.

“So, why argue that the Water and Sanitation Department’s ongoing woes predate February 2019, when there is official Agencies’ documentation that attests to their prior knowledge? Not only is our WWTPsuffering through neglect, but so too are ours. In reading further it is prudent to remember this Department’s years of neglecting its duties,” he urges us.

The De Lange Street SSS is next to a water system, with effluent overspill. There is still machinery missing. There is still exposed running machinery and electrical connections, as well as an open cesspit.

Alarmingly, “This site remains a death-trap, and it lies within five metres of a public thoroughfare; a biohazardous site, and until very recently easily accessible by children. Despite requests, (reported 28 February, and on record since the 9th March), that it be locked;video graphic material evidence that up until, (and including), the site inspection of 31 August,it remained unlocked.

TCLM’s general lack of transparency harbours certain Civil Servants of “stupendous” arrogance, ensconced within a sub-culture of finger-pointing. There is always a scapegoat. The rot runs deep. As a Public Organisation, it defers its legal obligation in readily producing its organogram to any specific individual.

Meetings bring little to no result. Try lodging complaints; and TCLM Officials, (to date – 12th September 2019), continue to proffer private g-mail accounts, stating non-payment of the mailing system amongst the “reasonings”. Hand-delivering letters is no guarantee of an official response either. How do we engage within channels of communication when for all intents and purposes there are none effectively on offer?

We lack combat against the issuing of questionable tenders and are all-equipped to query the means employed in awarding and obtaining these tenders,” he expanded.

Then there is the SSS at the end of Market Street. The effluent spill from this site runs for some 60 metres away from it. Here again, there is machinery missing. The moving parts of the machinery that still work, are exposed, as are the electrical connections.

He informs that, “This site is along a route taken by schoolchildren of both a primary and secondary school. Like thede Lange Street SSS, it historically lacks entrance control.”

But there is also a risk that it could contaminate a water system that runs into a river downstream of the water system that supplies our drinking water. For GRPA and GCBT this is a very serious issue.

He reminds us that, “Whilst pollution can affect water downstream, bacteria can also move upstream. If left unchecked, couldn’t this site contaminate our drinking water? Is Criminality such a far-reaching argument?”

Thirdly, the SSS at the end of Hugenote Street is a repeat of the Market street SSS, excepting that this contaminates a wetland, through which flows the Motitsi river, that runs into the dam at the Municipal Resort, which in turn feeds the waterfall that drops into Magodi Gorge.

“So, have our Servants not become our psychopathic Masters? Queries, (if addressed at all), are attended to with vague rhetoric, and “Big Men” speak rings as the lingua franca of our leaders. Straight-speak appears dead and forgotten, or is it just misplaced through fear of disclosure of other indiscretions? Do the bones within our collective closet rattle with such emotional cacophony that any coherent objections become simply ignored or dismissed out of hand?

Mention conspiracy and you’ll be shouted down like a mad theorist, despite available evidence indicating misappropriation of public funds. Are we rather to believe that we are prone to the whims of an evil genius mastermind, lurking around within Chambers at TCLM?” Johnson retorts.

“Why, since late February 2019 did TCLM apparently fail to procure new padlocks, and institute a responsibility in managing keys to at least secure these three restricted and biohazardous sites?”, he queries, consenting that, “they eventually complied sometime between the documented site inspections of 31 August and 9 September 2019.”

Amazingly, “The Department informs us that financial constraints and procurement procedures hinder the Department’s ability to perform. Yet the SSS’s at Hugenote Street and de Lange Street appear in the same Tender Bid Bulletin, (Notice Number 54 / 2019), as do the tenders for the Chlorination and Water Sampling Tests at the WWTP. This Tender closed on the 3rd of May; over four months ago.”

Which brings us back to the beginning of this story…

“Grinning, I tactfully disclosed all my available cash – the loose change in the ashtray. Obstinately retaining my silverware, I offered an apology for taking up his time to write out a fine. A prolonged moment’s silence; followed by a magnanimous flourish of hands, and I was dismissed to continue my journey. Less literacy in the language of “Big Men”, could be all we need.” Johnson concluded.

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