Residents of Ermelo and surrounding townships in Mpumalanga are demanding improved service delivery from the Msukaligwa Local Municipality.
Residents took to the streets in protest for improved services on Friday. They are concerned about the lack of basic services that include water, poor state of the roads and load shedding.
Msukaligwa is one of the local municipalities that owe Eskom for electricity, current debt amounts to over R359 million. Residents experience long hours of power outages as a result. The roads are also riddled with potholes.
They claim that at times they go for weeks without water.
Resident Juliet Basson says, “We don’t have water, we don’t have jobs, we have potholes everywhere. Our electricity, we get 2-3 hours a day, if we are lucky. When Eskom comes, we have municipal load reduction due to the municipality owing Eskom. When it’s supposed to go on, it goes off again. In some areas they stay without electricity for 4-5 days. No municipal communication, no council feeding us information, we’re actually in the dark.”
Acting Executive Mayor of the municipality Siphiwe Ngovene says the council will pass the budget to address the basic service concerns raised by the residents.
Ngovene says the municipality has written to Eskom to increase their electricity grid.
He adds, “We acknowledge the concerns raised by the community in this municipality. We have a proper plan. The issue of water, we are going to put tanks at extension 33 and 32.”
Meanwhile, MEC for Community, Safety, Security and Liaison Vusi Shongwe has warned residents against embarking on protests that disrupt public order.
He said those who break the law will be arrested.
“I want to send a strong message that they must not go and violate other people’s rights because the roads they are using, they did not apply for that particular protest or shutdown. People were supposed to go to work, people were supposed to go the hospital and other services. We do not dispute what they are fighting for, it is their right to march and complain about any lack of basic services, but not violate other people rights,” adds Shongwe.
Police have been deployed to monitor the situation in the area.