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Rates retention and frustration over refuse situation

Rubbish in Nottingham Road. Local businesses and individuals are stepping in to assist after a contract to have refuse removed was cancelled earlier this year. Picture: Garth Johnstone
Meander Chronicle Reporter

Many South Africans living in small towns are struggling with service delivery.

The towns of Koster and Swartruggens in North West have been in the news, for example, after taking their municipality to court and winning the right to provide their own water and deal with sewerage issues after years of neglect and failure by the local council.

The story of Harrismith’s “Water Heroes” is another case in point.

Maintenance of infrastructure has long been an issue in Mooi River/Mpofana, which has serious financial/funding problems.

Here in the Midlands, residents who get their services from Umngeni Municipality, including in Hilton, Howick and Nottingham Road, are growing increasingly fed up with aspects of service delivery. Some of them have banded together and are withholding their rates temporarily until the service situation improves.

During December 2020 and January 2021, Howick and Districts Landowner Association, Nottingham Road Land Owners’ Association, Hilton Ratepayers’ Association, Umngeni Residents and Ratepayers’ Association, various residential estate home owners’ associations and body corporates formed the broad U-CSF (Umngeni Civil Society Formation). Part of the plan was to bring about positive changes to service delivery and allow for collective engagement with council.

The organisation also informed residents about a rates retention initiative to try to force the municipality to hear residents and provide the services they pay for.

Among the issues highlighted are:
Broken roads and stormwater systems;
Crumbling infrastructure;
Inadequate and poor waste collection, disposal and management;
Continuous bailouts using, and allegedly the misuse of, ratepayer funds;
Alleged awarding of over-inflated tenders, at ratepayer expense;

• If you’re a resident who pays for services from Umngeni municipality and are dissatisfied, click on the following link https://forms.gle/5CP48aXuLfZfsPSM7 to get your complaint directed to the mayor and municipal manager.

Rubbish piles up in Nottingham Road village. Picture: Garth Johnstone

Residents in Nottingham Road –  which is a centre for tourism and hospitality – are losing patience with the dragging issue of lack of refuse collection after the cancelling of a contract earlier this year.

In February it became evident that refuse was no longer being picked up, with bins overflowing and black bags lying in the road for days in the village and surrounding areas. It emerged that after an impasse between the contractor and Umgeni Municipality, the contract had been cancelled. The council said it would take two to three months to conclude a tender for a new contract.

Illegal dumping

The Nottingham Road Land Owners Association (NRLA) sent out a notice in the middle of that month advising members and the broader community of what had transpired and urging businesses and residents to refrain from illegal dumping of refuse and to report others seen doing so. There are recycling stations in Howick and refuse can be taken to the Currie’s Post or Mooi River landfills.

Now read – Recyling: Focus on food and beverage cartons 

However, with the issue now dragging on for three months and no clear end in sight, the land owners’ association’s confirmed that residents and the association were beginning to get fed up with the lack of action and response from council. It’s been alleged that some of the rubbish that was meant to be collected each Thursday (a temporary arrangement) is not being collected.

A sign at the site of the old recycling station near Notts Fuel and Gas. The message is clear. This is no longer a pick-up point for sorting and collection of recycled goods. Picture: Garth Johnstone

Illegal dumping has been a major bugbear for those working hard to beautify and maintain the standard of the village.

In its notice in February, the NRLA stated: “Please can we all encourage our community to stop dumping their waste in the village. The current ‘drop off’ areas will be rehabilitated, cordoned off and appropriate No Dumping signage erected by the NRLA, NRR and volunteers.

More rubbish waiting for collection for days. Picture: Garth Johnstone

“Should vehicles and/or persons be seen dumping their waste in the village, car registrations will be recorded and persons will unfortunately be named and shamed for this irresponsible behaviour.”

The public was urged to pass on info to the association. (nrla@bundunet.com)

The DA has also written to the council demanding action on the refuse situation in Nottingham Road.

• For those who need assistance, The Notties land owners body recommends a number of private contractors who can be hired to assist with refuse removal:
Jessica Young (The Waste Co) – 082 940 9039
Roy Kruger (Valotech) – 082 633 1396
Shahen Dhanpal (Midlands Conservancy) – 082 551 1952
Martin (Midlands Refuse Removal) – 063 260 2692
Vincent Mgwaba – 072 878 9078

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