On Wednesday morning I drove to Ezibeleni and was shocked, alarmed and appalled by the state of the roads. In fact, those myriad of ditches do not even qualify to be called roads. I struggled to navigate my way around these ditches and I was driving a bakkie. Imagine what happens to the ordinary resident of this place who has to travel to and from work each and every day and has to encounter such horrendous roads.
Spare a thought as well for the taxi owners whose vehicles have to do numerous trips on these roads taking people to and from town. How many tyres have they prematurely replaced after they have been used on these roads on a daily basis? How many times have they had to replace shock absorbers and all other chassis-related parts in the short space of time? As if this calamity is not enough, the very residents of Ezibeleni have to endure a whole week without any electricity. Electricity outages are an everyday occurrence there, but to have no electricity for up to a week is the worst they have had to endure. The last week or so has been one of the hottest weeks recently so you can imagine the losses these people suffered because the fridges were not working.
I can relate – last December we came back from being away from home to find everything in our fridge rotten as at some point during the time we were away the electricity went off. Life without electricity, I believe, is harder than life without water. At least with water, the municipality can bring in portable water using tankers and people can either buy water or cart water themselves. When there is no electricity there is practically nothing you can do other than wait it out until the supply is restored. So when you see someone with creased clothes, cut them some slack, they could be coming from Ezibeleni and they could not get their clothes ironed. The anger that spilled over on Tuesday from the residents, while misdirected, was understandable. It cannot be easy to be in the dark for a week.
People in charge of residents’ lives have to do better and take us more seriously. The electricity problems there are not only surfacing now, they have been an ongoing problem for years – why they have not been permanently resolved, only the municipality knows. I heard that a multi-million Rand tender was awarded to fix the roads there. Well, it seems as if there is a long way to go before that becomes a reality.
The people of Ezibeleni deserve a permanent solution to their power supply problems as well – this piecemeal intervention from the Enoch Mgijima Municipality is not unacceptable. These are the people who actually pay rates and services to the municipality – theirs is not a charity case, but a legitimate demand for services by people who have paid for them to be delivered.