The City of Johannesburg’s waste management entity, Pikitup, on Wednesday said it would not be reimbursing residents the monthly service fee for refuse collection despite being unable to fully provide the service because thousands of its workers are continuing their nearly four-week-long illegal strike.
In a statement issued by Pikitup’s spokesperson, Jacky Mashapu, the company said it had been inundated with requests to reimburse residents for services not rendered, but the matter was complicated.
“Pikitup would like to point out to the Joburg residents that the refuse removal services fee is a monthly charge that is based on the value of property as per the promulgated City’s Tariffs,” Mashapu said in the statement.
“The charge cannot be itemised or allocated to a bin, nor the number of lifts per bin, neither is it based on the quantity of the waste collected.”
About 4 000 Pikitup workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) went on an illegal strike since March 9, demanding wage hikes from R6 000 to R10 000 a month. They are also demanding the dismissal of Pikitup Managing Director Amanda Nair, whom they accuse of corruption and nepotism.
Nair has, in the past, been cleared of any wrongdoing after similar allegations were brought before the high court.
Since the strike began, Samwu members have ignored dismissal notices from Pikitup, calls by their national office to return to work, and two court interdicts against the unprotected strike.
Instead, the workers have been embarking in protests in Johannesburg CBD and Braamfontein, leaving a trail of destruction of municipal property and heaps of trash along the city streets.
Pikitup said the “totality of waste services” includes bin collection, street cleaning, illegal dumping, litter picking and landfill operations.
It said these were all funded from the tariff as stipulated in the tariffs policy and City of Joburg’s waste bylaws.
“In the case where refuse is not collected due to unforeseen circumstances that may include planned or unplanned strikes, general service delays caused by bad weather conditions or truck break downs, Pikitup implements a contingency plan to deal with the backlog of uncollected refuse,” Mashapu said.
It has been reported before that many residents were concerned at the length of time it was taking to resolve the strike. They were also concerned about the possible health hazard arising from uncollected garbage in and around the city. Some residents have opted to dispose of refuse in their areas themselves.
Mashapu said Pikitup regretted any inconvenience caused as a result of the ongoing disruption to refuse collection services.
“We would like to assure Joburg citizens, and in particular, rate payers that we are doing what we can to stabilise the daily operations. We are collecting as much as we can as per the contingency measures in place,” Mashapu said.
Meanwhile, disciplinary hearings for the striking Pikitup workers who had ignored two court interdicts and ultimatums to return to work continued on Wednesday after they came to a halt on Tuesday as workers requested 11 interpreters so that all languages were accommodated.
The strike, which has dragged on for almost a month has forced the City to employ private contractors at a cost of R1 million a day.
– African News Agency (ANA)