Residents accuse ANC councillor of starting wasteful project

Councillor defends road drainage plan

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Photo of protesters blocking road with burning rubble
Mpumuza residents block the D11-35 road. Photo: Ntombi Mbomvu

All roads leading to KwaMpumuza in ward 1 in Pietermaritzburg were closed by angry residents on Tuesday. They demanded that ward councillor Lucky Mbanjwa be removed.

Mbanjwa is in hot water after a project to install a road drainage project was introduced in KwaMpumuza. Residents say they want better roads instead of the drainage project. The R10 million project was introduced by the Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Transport. Residents refer to this as the V-Drain project, because of the shape of the device used to do the drainage.

KZN Department of Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane confirmed that the project is by the Department of Transport, and was introduced last month.

Residents blockaded the road saying that they want the project closed. Taxi drivers including taxi owners supported the protest. Police used teargas to disperse the protesters.

The protest continued yesterday. A resident and community activist of KwaMpumuza, Stutu Zondi, said Mbanjwa has ignored their outcry for better roads.

“We have more than five roads that are not in good condition. They are gravel roads and that has affected us for a long time. Taxi owners and taxi drivers have been complaining. When it is raining the taxis are forced to leave us far from our destination. We have had incidents where children have been knocked by cars. If our roads are not small they are gravel roads. Despite all these incidents Mbanjwa has not seen the importance of listening to us. Instead a V-Drain project is introduced. … He did not call a community meeting to address us. We would have raised our concerns at the meeting. How can they install V-Drains on a road that need fixing? They must fix our roads before these V-Drains,” said Zondi.

Children did not attend school since no transport was available.

The ward councillor said he was shocked by the behaviour of the residents. He said he believes there was an agenda behind the protest because local elections are approaching.

“I had a meeting with them last week and no one raised that there were problems with the project. I know they were not happy about people who were employed to work on the project. They were transparent about that and it was sorted out. … They are failing to understand that this project would have helped them with the walkways on the roads they are complaining about. I am aware that there are problems with the roads and that will be attended to when the time is right,” said Mbanjwa.

Ward 1 was previously an IFP stronghold ward before Mbanjwa took over as an ANC ward councillor. According to some of the residents, due to the split of the IFP, some residents became NFP members.

“That is when people were confused,” said one young protester. “That is how the ANC took over this ward. Right now we are one [united] and we are tired of the ANC ward councillors. Mbanjwa must leave us in peace. He must go before the elections,” said the protester.

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