Mangaung Metro Municipality has been granted permission by the Free State High Court to resume construction of the controversial Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) depot. This after it was revealed that delay in the project is putting heavy financial costs on the already burdened municipality.
Members of the Ward 47 Project Steering Committee were summoned to court on Wednesday morning to keep community members from interfering with the construction of a bus depot in New East End.
According to Advocate Craig Snyman, representative for the Metro, it costs the taxpayer R389 000 for 10 days while work on the site is at a standstill. The Metro applied for a Provisional Court Order to restart work, which came to a stop on 22 July when residents protested outside the premises. They demanded that all construction be stopped and vehicles removed from the site.
Ward 47 Councillor Mokgadi Kganakga, a respondent in the court application, expressed that the court action is further alienating the community and is a drain on municipal funds. “There must be an alternative way. The municipality does not have enough money for water and refuse is not removed for weeks on end, but it is willing to interdict community members who want to speak with them. The municipality is playing yoyo with the people’s lives and jobs,” said Kganakga.
Residents of Ward 47 have been up in arms against the depot project after claims that jobs and contract opportunities forming part of the project were taken out of their community in favour of residents from Ward 1.
Saints van Wyk, another respondent in the legal application, denied any violence by the community. “There was no violence there or any kind of intimidation on that site. It was a peaceful march. All they went to say there is that Ward 47’s people and businesses must benefit from the project, which is a simple and lawful request.”
The case will resume on 19 September 2019 when respondents, some of whom are unemployed community members, are to reappear with their own legal representatives.