STLM losing war against street light vandals

The municipality said it has no funding to replace vandalised street lights during the most recent council sitting.

After the two tumultuous special council sittings where the ANC disrupted the motion of no-confidence proceedings brought by the Middelburg and Hendrina Residents Front against Mayor Mhlonishwa Masilela, some normality returned during Tuesday’s ordinary council sitting, where the town’s street lights, or lack thereof, was again thrust into the spotlight.

The municipality erected five new high mast lights in Nasaret despite the vast majority of existing high mast lights not working.

The DA’s Morgan Bruiners questioned municipal planning and maintenance, requesting clarity on the authority’s repair schedule and priority allocations to deal with the crisis, which is equally problematic in almost all other suburbs, as well as Mhluzi.

The municipality supplied a repair schedule but said that the schedule did not include any lights that had been vandalised, only working lights.
According to the municipality, non-functioning lights due to vandalism will only be dealt with once money is available.

The repair of non-functional lights has been prioritised, especially since load-shedding has been suspended.
Due to the backlog, however, no areas are being prioritised.

Meanwhile, the municipality is looking at “other funding models” to fix and replace vandalised lights.

Due to ever-increasing costs of repairs for vandalised electrical infrastructure, the municipality says it “has no funding”.
Instead, the municipality wants the community to police infrastructure.

“If it’s not the lights themselves, it’s the cables or the substations,” Bruiners says, adding, “Vandalism of Middelburg’s electrical infrastructure has become the biggest threat to financial stability for STLM.”

The municipality has a weekly repair schedule covering all wards, but the backlog is simply too big, and growing, to address in one fell swoop.

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