Metro on brink of collapse?

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Is the Mangaung Metro Municipality (MMM) on the brink of collapse? This is the question that has come up repeatedly in conversations between Bloemfontein residents in recent months. The municipality has been facing a mountain of issues recently, which include irregular refuse removal services, burst pipes, sewage water flowing in streets and dreaded potholes on roads throughout the city. To make matters worse, the metro’s information system crash over two weeks ago affects the payment of municipal bills, etc. Photos: Pierce van Heerden

Mangaung Metro is ‘out of its depth’

Is the Mangaung Metro Municipality (MMM) on the brink of collapse? This is the question that has come up repeatedly in conversations between citizens of Bloemfontein in recent months.
The municipality has been facing a mountain of issues recently, which include irregular refuse removal services, burst pipes, sewage water flowing in streets and dreaded potholes on roads throughout the city. The metro’s information system crash that occurred over two weeks ago affects the payment of municipal bills, etc.
The Economic Freedom Fighter’s Baba Sebolao said there is no doubt that the municipality is out of its depth.
“The city manager must be held responsible for the downfall of the municipality. My point is, are workers going to get their money at the end of the month when someone earns more than R1 million but is so incompetent,” he asked.
Sebolao expressed the possibility of a municipal workers’ strike if the current information systems crash persists.

Dirty water at the Bloemfontein Zoo
Photo: Pierce van Heerden

Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor, Maryke Davies, said the municipality has had many problems due to expired contracts. “This is a problem all over the municipality as most contracts have expired this year and last year. The metro does not take the initiative to renew contracts.”
She also stated that the old refuse contractor stopped providing services due to unpaid fees. The Bloemfontein Zoo has also been affected as animals were left to live in enclosures filled with waste and carcasses after cleaning service contracts were not renewed.
According to Dirk Kotze of the DA, payments are currently processed manually, opening a door to possible corruption. “Anybody can take a lot of money. You could just cancel the document that you have written in and pocket the money,” said Kotze.
Kotze expressed concern that the municipality’s Information Technology (IT) department did not make contingency plans ahead of the current crash as backups also seem to have been compromised.

Potholes are becoming bigger and bigger
Photo: Pierce van Heerden

“Every IT department needs to have contingency plans in place. They also have to do a risk assessment for crises like these,” he explained. According to Kotze this would also leave residents’ information vulnerable to cybercrime.
Bloemfontein Courant noted the flow of sewage in various parts of Mangaung, including the ever busy Dr Belcher Road which separates Phahameng and Heidedal. The sewage water has been leaking here for weeks.
In the meantime, parts of the city such as Walter Sisulu Road and Sonneblom Street in Heidedal are dark at night, although street lights are on during the day.
Bloemfontein Courant attempted to get a comment from municipal spokesperson, Qondile Khedama, about the state of affairs in the city, but by the time of going to press, he had not responded to our questions.

NOMAQHAWE MTEBELE
nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za