Public Protector inspects sewerage-flooded Braamfischerville
Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela has reiterated her call to communities to trust constitutional institutions such as her office with service delivery complaints instead of rioting and vandalising much needed infrastructure.
This followed her return to Braamfischerville in Soweto on Monday to perform a site inspection after locals complained about sewer leakages that have turned the settlement into an inhabitable health hazard. The dwelling also appears to have been built on a wet land, with some houses having sunk into the ground.
The Public Protector visited the area over a week ago at the invitation of a community leader, who complained through a BBC journalist that residents’ attempts to have their grievances addressed by the municipality had either not yielded long lasting solutions or fallen on deaf ears.
According to locals, sewer leakages in the area have been flooding their streets from as far back as five years ago and every time the City of Johannesburg fixed the problem, pipes would burst again soon after. This has resulted in health challenges such as diarrhoea and respiratory problems for some residents.
On Monday, the Public Protector revisited the area in the company of a multi-discipline team of experts including engineers from Joburg Water and a representative of the Home Builders Registration Council to examine the extent of the problem.
The team is expected to assess the status of the water reticulation infrastructure in the area and come up with short and long term solutions. They will also establish whether the area is safe for residential purposes and revert to the Public Protector this week with a plan to address the challenges.
Speaking after the inspection, the Public Protector thanked the community leadership for embracing the constitution and working within its mechanisms to hold government accountable for service delivery, instead of rioting. She urged other communities elsewhere in the country, with service delivery challenges, to follow this example.
“The fact that we were invited here by a young person is encouraging because young people are always at the forefront of riots that often leave infrastructure vandalised and human rights undermined. Other communities should learn from the people of Braamfischerville,” the Public Protector said.
She said organs of state that treated people badly were undermining democracy and called on the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Parks Tau, to take action against those who have been non responsive to the complaints of communities as he indicated in his state of the city address last week.
The Public Protector added that, in giving the people a voice and serving as the conscience of the state, her office would seek answers from the City, with a view holding those responsible for the situation to account.
This will cover the assessment and approval of the area as a suitable human settlement and the tender processes as well as quality assurances in the design and implementation of the settlement’s water and sewerage systems.
She thanked the media for helping to highlight the community’s plight, saying this would spread the message to other communities in the country experiencing service delivery failures to go to institutions such as her office rather than engaging in violent protests.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012