City only sets aside R2.5bn for repairs

eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda. Picture: Supplied

eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 20, 2024


Durban — EThekwini Municipality has announced a budget of R67.3 billion with a massive 14.9% increase to water, and 14% to electricity.

eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda made the announcements on Tuesday when he presented the draft budget for the 2024/2025 financial year.

The budget was broken down as follows: Total budget is R67.3 billion, which includes R59.7 on operational expenses and R7.6 billion for capital.

  • Water R9.8 billion: operational R8.4 billion, capital R1.4 billion. R423 million provision for maintenance and repairs.
  • Electricity R21.5 billion: operational R20.8 billion, capital R687.8 million. Provision of R1.145 billion for repairs and maintenance to rehabilitate the electricity network.
  • Sanitation: R3.1 billion with an operating budget of R2.3 billion and a capital budget of R832 million.
  • Cleansing & Solid Waste: R2.2 billion operating budget and R368 million capital. Provisions for R166 million for repairs and maintenance.
  • Roads: R3.3 billion on engineering to ensure roads are built and maintained. R2.6 billion operating and R759 million capital budget. Provision of R684 million for repairs.
  • Human Settlements: R1.44 billion: R631.2 million operating, R815 million capital.

Ratepayer associations have opposed these increases and said that residents have not received services that warrant them.

Bluff Ratepayers and Residents’ Association vice-chairperson Allison Schoeman said Kaunda was out of touch with the needs of citizens.

Schoeman said eThekwini property rates are higher than Cape Town, yet Cape Town is vastly different with a far better living quality. Schoeman said the budget will merely increase poverty and unemployment which will in turn lead to violent protests as people feel the brunt of the high cost of living. Protests, Schoeman said, cause further destruction of infrastructure.

“Kaunda speaks of a budget that is reasonable for the residents of eThekwini yet the budget is far from reasonable. If salaries only increase by 6% how are the residents expected to pay 10% more for services? This is not sustainable. There is nothing positive about this budget. With its exorbitant tariff increases, it reflects an attitude toward the citizens of eThekwini, leading us to question whether the municipality understands its own vision and mission,” Schoeman said.

Schoeman and her association have provided alternative revenue-generating measures which the city could have considered. These include engaging in Public-Private Partnerships; implementing land value capture; issuing green bonds and social bonds; establishing Special Economic Zones; seeking grant funding and subsidies; monetising underutilised municipal assets; issuing municipal bonds; exploring crowdfunding and community funding; investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and lastly develop technology and innovation hubs.

President of the eThekwini Ratepayers and Residents Association, Ish Prahladh, said, “We cannot accept any proposal for increases until service delivery has been restored. Plans of restoration of services must be provided. The resident cannot get ripped off? What is the justification for such a hike when there are failures upon failures in the municipality.”

Verulam Water Crisis Committee spokesman Roshan Lil-Ruthan expressed his disapproval.

“These are significantly higher than the Consumer Price Index. They are outrageous and unjustifiable given the woeful state of service delivery and the multitude of gross inefficiencies within the municipality,” he said.

He added that failures include: Irregular or non-existent water supply; frequent power outages; inefficient refuse removal; and poor sanitation management.

“It is imperative eThekwini takes immediate action to rectify the current service inefficiencies and implement appropriate cost-saving measures,” he said.

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