KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala intervenes in La Mercy service delivery issues
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DURBAN - PREMIER Sihle Zikalala has ordered various KwaZulu-Natal departments to return to La Mercy within a week to deal with service delivery issues raised by the community and develop an action plan.
This was after residents requested service delivery interventions including the construction of a pedestrian bridge, houses for residents living in informal settlements, a clinic, community halls, and sports and recreational facilities.
“We will try to meet with the structure that will be formed at least once in three-months (four times a year) so that all issues can be dealt with systematically,” Zikalala said.
He said that the province intended to unlock opportunities to support SMMEs in order to empower locals.
“We cannot deal with community issues overnight. We must be practical in our approach but that must start with building community trust.”
Zikalala held a meeting with community leaders and representatives of affected ratepayers’ associations as part of an intervention plan by the provincial government on Monday evening.
Among concerns raised were the challenges facing informal settlements where residents lived without basic services such as water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal.
Other issues included drainage challenges, allegedly emanating from the Anton Lembede Mathematics, Sciences and Technology Academy in La Mercy, environmental degradation, maintenance of verges along the M4 highway, unemployment and crime.
The residents also expressed unhappiness with continuous overflows from sewerage networks and leaks.
The meeting was a follow-up to the one Zikalala held earlier this month with residents in ward 58 covering Canelands, Verulam, Waterloo, Umdloti, La Mercy, Westbrook and eMagwaveni in oThongathi.
La Mercy Ratepayers’ Association president Ravi Ramsunder said they understood that things cannot be done in one day, and they were willing to work with government in resolving the issues.
“The municipality must please come to us. We understand the environmental, education department and all of the players. We are prepared to hold your hand and help you through the process.”
Zikalala apologised on behalf of officials who did not respond to letters from concerned community members.
“What has compounded issues in this ward is the lack of a good relationship between the community and local councillor, there’s also a lack of good working relations between the councillor and the municipality.”
He said a sustainable relationship needed to be built with the community.
“We should establish a structure that will link the local ratepayers’ associations with the war room.”
Zikalala was joined by Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Ravi Pillay, heads of departments representing various provincial departments, senior managers from the office of the premier, and senior officials from the eThekwini Municipality.