Raging fires at the landfill site, a dysfunctional sewage station and piles of uncollected rubbish are what a member of a civic organisation based in East London, Christo Theart, was met with on a tour around Komani recently.
Addressing guests at the Border-Kei Chamber of Business networking session held at the newly-established Luxe Molen Boutique Hotel, Theart said the dire state of the municipality gave the impression that things had gone wrong for many years.
“There are people at the landfill site collecting recyclables, but on the same site there is a buy-back centre which was put up at a cost of millions of rands, but is not operating. The whole site is not controlled. We have been through Mlungisi and I have seen the amount of dumping. It is frightening. It is unbelievable how people can live in such circumstances. It is inhumane. There need to be local transformation stations, even in the form of skips or bins, but there is no alternative for people.”
Theart said his organisation dealt with holding municipalities to account through litigation and ensuring that they complied with the laws of the country. “We will tackle the issue of the landfill site and the sewage spills. That will be the beginning and hopefully the municipality will act on that. If not, a court order will possibly work,” he said.
Chairperson Mark Wilson said the dysfunctional state of the municipality was a huge blow for local businesses. Efforts to rope the local authority in to work together with the chamber remained unsuccessful, he said. The private sector had to work together with the public sector to build the town. “We hope that post elections the right people who want to work with businesses will come in.”
In her message to the business people who attended, incoming BKCB executive director Lizelle Maurice said: “I was so encouraged because, in spite of the fact that you are doing business in an environment that is definitely difficult, you are still thriving. You are still creating jobs and adding value to the lives of others in your region in spite of a difficult enabling environment. We are in a beautiful boutique hotel this evening that opened post Covid-19. We can either focus on the challenges or rise from what we have come from. We can turn challenges into opportunities.”