Failing infrastructure destroying small Eastern Cape towns

Issued by Nqaba Bhanga, MPL
DA EC Provincial Leader

The failing infrastructure across the province, and indeed the country, is destroying small towns. Nowhere is the true neglect of government more evident than in the way municipal infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate.

I raised this matter in the National Council of Provinces yesterday, when I debated on the State of Municipal Infrastructure under the theme of “Building a viable Municipal Infrastructure Network for Effective and Efficient delivery of services to Communities”.

For the past 28 years, small towns across the province have been allowed to slowly collapse under the ANC government. Monies meant for maintenance and upgrades have been squandered on skyrocketing cost of employment, as jobs for pals take priority over service delivery.

Local municipalities are supposed to be the heart of service delivery but after years of neglect and mismanagement, this is no longer the case.

Piped water in two-thirds of South Africa’s municipalities does not meet minimum standards and untreated sewage often flows into drinking water dams. Where sewerage works fail, untreated water pollutes the dams from which drinking water is to be extracted.

One only has to look to the Chris Hani District Municipality, which has shown time and again its inability to manage sewerage infrastructure. Raw sewage continues to flow unabated into the Great Fish River, with no apparent consequences for those responsible.

It is a ticking time bomb. Our water security must be ensured.

As South Africans, we have unfortunately had to become adept at “dodging potholes”, as a part of our daily lives.

In the Sundays River Valley alone, there are over 3 000 potholes that is unlikely to be repaired soon. Residents and businesses are forced to struggle with transportation in these areas. Not only does ailing road infrastructure affect the day-to-day life of residents but it has a direct negative effect on the local economy.

The roads deteriorate even further with heavy rainfall. In recent floods in the Elliot area, houses and roads have been damaged due to unmaintained stormwater drainage systems.

Failing infrastructure has a devastating effect on households and businesses. Businesses need water and accessible road networks to operate and without it, businesses may be forced to shut their doors.

The Eastern Cape cannot afford to lose jobs by scaring off private sector investment.

Every time that citizens opt to fix potholes themselves, every time residents buy Jojo tanks to have consumable water – that is an indictment on this government. It shows that citizens have no faith in local government officials.

In no functioning state should citizens have to do the job of government.

Municipalities, in collaboration with the provincial and national governments, must address the crumbling infrastructure with proper planning.

It is of vital importance that allocated funds make their way to infrastructure and that visible service delivery is restored.