During a year of being under administration and facing the Covid-19 pandemic, the city of Tshwane appears to be making headway on major issues such as the Rooiwal waste water treatment plant, low revenue collection and service delivery issues.
In his first state of the capital address since taking office in November last year, mayor Randall Williams on Thursday presented his 10-point strategy to turn the city around, after eight months of a collapsed council and impacts of the pandemic, an address which the opposition said was “hollow”.
One of the highlights was the progress made at the problematic Rooiwal waste water treatment plant which purifies 45% of the city’s water.
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After years of interrupted purification, Williams announced that 50% of the first phase of the upgrade was expected to be completed by the end of the financial year.
This is after years of a lack of funding to address the issues at Rooiwal which were estimated to cost about R2 billion.
But during a site visit to the plant this week with Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Williams said she was “so impressed” that she committed to ensure they receive funding for phases two and three.
“Through increased allocations via the utility services development grant, she has committed that her department will make sure that Tshwane receives the funds that it needs to fully upgrade the Rooiwal waste water treatment plant,” he said.
The pandemic, however, hit the city’s finances hard, dropping the estimated 95% revenue collection rate to less than 75% towards the end of the 2019-20 financial year.
But critical interventions to enhance revenue were implemented, such as addressing poor meter reading, the backlog of clearance certificates and collection of arrears debt.
“The collection rate for debtors has already improved to just over 88% and every effort is being made to again reach the target of 95%,” Williams said.
An additional 665 Tshwane free wi-fi zones have been installed with another 20 to be implemented in the fourth quarter for residents to receive a daily 1GB of data per device.
“This programme continues to contribute to ensuring there is connectedness among residents and enhanced access to digital services.”
In a few months, Tshwane will be the first metropolitan city in the country to launch a dedicated inner city policing unit which will have a satellite Tshwane metro police department station in the city centre supported by 100 metro police officers.
“This is a massive achievement and progressive step for our city when it comes to active crime prevention.”
But the speech was “hollow” and did not address job creation or issues affecting townships, said opposition parties ANC and EFF.
“It was a hollow speech full of semantics to try to appease our people. The mayor came here and in doing so, to try and confirm that he can’t solve the problem of Hammanskraal (water). He has eight months to leave the office but says the city doesn’t have enough funds to solve the issue of water in Hammanskraal,” said Tshwane EFF leader MoAfrika Mabogwana.
ANC leader Kgosi Maepa said the address was a “vanity project” filled with “nothingness”.
“There are elections coming and the people must come out and say what they want because this was a disastrous five years of the DA which went from bad to worse,” he said.