About a year ago I attended a public ward meeting organised by Councillor Dave Ryder. The meeting, which was well attended, was addressed by the newly installed Msunduzi Mayor and the newly appointed Municipal Manager. I can remember being impressed by both these gentleman. I was particularly impressed by the Municipal Manager, especially when he said that he would make street lighting a priority.
Well, Well. Earlier this year I on two occasions drove from the top of Town Bush Road to the Msunduzi Airport to collect someone. Both trips were made after sunset and were mostly completed in the dark, as most of the street lights between the top of Town Bush Road and the airport were not working. The one trip was completed in fairly heavy rain, and that together with the lack of street lighting, made the journey both hazardous and harrowing.
Over the weekend I went for a bike ride. Most of these rides end with the a trek up Town Bush Road. When I ride up Town Bush Road I mostly ride on the pavement for fear of the vehicles that I would have to share he road with. I do so cognisant of the fact that I am using a facility meant for pedestrians. To this end I try to time my rides to coincide with times when the sidewalks are not mostly clear, much the same as last Saturday afternoon.
Leaving the circle the first obstacle I faced was the large lump of concrete that slipped down the embankment onto the sidewalk some time ago. The next obstacle was the branch (popupics) that fell onto the sidewalk and road earlier this year. The branch (popupics) had been cut back to clear the road, but not the sidewalk. It is my experience that this is standard practice and it always leaves my wondering what the team doing the clearing is thinking. Surely they must realize that while there are now a lot more vehicles of South Africa's roads, there are still plenty of South Africans walking on the sidewalks.
The next obstacle I have to face is the missing drain cover in the vicinity of the Gum trees adjacent to the roadside opposite Northern Park Primary School. That and the serious loss of sidewalk to Gum tree debris and the consistently collapsing embankment. Beyond Grey's Hospital I have to abandon the sidewalk because it disappears. So I once more return to the road on the approach to the Town Bush Road / Montgomery Drive traffic lights. Beyond that I can return to the sidewalk. A section of sidewalk that has suffered collateral damage as the result of a spate of water main leaks that had to be repaired. These repairs were always followed by the customary "resting period", a period of time when the pipe is left exposed and the whole demarcated by hazard tape. What is amazing about these holes is that they not only ultimately get covered, the the pavement is repaired as well.
I have no doubt that credit for those timeous repairs is due to Councillor Dave Ryder, who presumably was also responsible for the repair to the pedestrian barrier on the median of Town Bush road in the vicinity of the Taxi Rank opposite Grey's Hospital. I have mentioned these pedestrian barriers (popupics) before in a piece entitled, "". Once again, Councillor Ryder is to be commended, this time for persistence, a characteristic, amongst others that is almost a pre-requisite for successfully transacting business in South Africa.
Still riding on the pavement, I next reach what is either a recently sprung eternal spring (popupics), or an unstoppable leak. Riding up Town Bush Road, it is on the left hand side of the road halfway between the traffic light and the freeway bridge. There was some municipal activity there last year that lasted several days. I now suspect that that that intervention was associated with an electricity reticulation problem and not a water reticulation problem. Either way, it neither affected the state of the leak, or the that of the Town Bush Road street lights. I only hope that the stagnant water I ride through was originally fresh water and not sewage.
The final obstacle (popupics) that I will specifically refer to is access to the freeway bridge via the sidewalk. It is impossible because of the extent to which the weeds and aliens growing on the side of the road have extended there claim over the sidewalk. Here pedestrians must step into the road in order to proceed. That fate awaits me as well. Negotiating the underpass on my bike in the presence of traffic that is now at peak speed between the two sets of traffic lights, is not for the feint hearted.
I could go on, and I have in previous blogs and PICPMB Photograpic Tours, but I won't. Instead I would once again like to complement Councillor Dave Ryder on the contribution he makes to our ward. Having done so, it is only proper that I extend the compliment to his team, as I am sure they are also contributing. I should also mention that the barrier I alluded to in my, Ultimately a tribute to Ward Councillor Dave Ryder blog, has been repaired. It took more than a couple of months, but not years, so well done Dave!
I am also aware of other achievements and developments associated with Councillor Ryder's ward, as I am on the mailing list for his "News Letter". Within that context I have always felt that it would be useful if Councillor Ward published this information more widely. It would be useful to know what he is trying to achieve on a month basis and in terms of longer term goals. A dated check list of sorts would work well as it would allow residents of the ward to see what was being worked on and what had been achieved. This could easily be achieved by means of some for of presence on the Internet using the WWW.
I know the City Manager has a web presence and you can see his page here. As you will have seen if you visited the page, The City Manager does not have much to say on that page. I cannot be sure if you browsed the Msunduzi pages beyond that of the City Manager, and if you did, what you thought of them. I have personally dones o both now and on numerous previous occasions. I can only sau that while these pages have improved recently, they continue to disappointment. There are of course other avenues that the City Manager can use to communicate with the residents of the "City of Choice". "The Witness" is one of these, and I do use it to keep myself up to date with the City Manager's interaction with the residents of the city through that medium.
Would it not be be great if the City Manager maintained a dated check list of sorts on the Internet using the WWW. It to would allow residents of the city to see what was in the pipe-line, what was being worked on and what had been achieved. On this list he could include street lights, as he did say that he would be making this a priority when he addressed a meeting of the residents of Councillor Ryder's ward, in the Northern Park Primary School Hall over a year ago.
What I am proposing here are simple instruments. Surely they could be deployed, and more importantly, maintained.
PS Last night I drove to the "Last Night at the PROMS" concert, down poorly lit streets to arrive at the City Hall. There I heard that the Piano Recital would not be performed as water has leaked onto the Grand Piano and rendered it unplayable. Afterwards, as I drove home, I realised that I have behaved in a cowardly fashion in terms of how I have written this blog thus far. What I really want to say is, "Surely the manager / CEO of an enterprise that is failing as badly as Pietermaritzburg /Msunduzi is, would have been asked to step down by now". It is not as is the carpet is being pulled from beneath his feet. Rather, the roof is literally being stolen from over his head.
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