eThekwini Municipality and DA clash over R2.9 million street sweepers’ usage and oversight

eThekwini Municipality and DA clash over R2.9 million street sweepers' usage and oversight

The DA’s Billy Nzamo said the party’s planned oversight visit to the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) offices on Monday was thwarted when City officials reportedly denied them entry.

This action followed DA allegations that the street sweepers, procured in 2016, had been left unused and had become white elephants.

In response, the eThekwini Municipality issued a statement asserting that the Ride-On Vacuum Street Sweepers, bought through an open tender with no irregularities, have been operational for years.

The purchase price was R2.9 million for all three combined, and staff underwent the necessary training as standard procedure for new equipment.

Further elaborating on its waste management strategy, the municipality highlighted a significant investment of over R500 million over three years, starting in 2019, to enhance city-wide waste management.

This included procuring a new fleet for the Cleansing and Solid Waste Unit.

In 2021, 59 vehicles were unveiled at a cost of R170 million, and last year, 47 additional units costing R213 million were added to accelerate waste collection and management in eThekwini.

The municipality said that these newer, more advanced vehicles are now in primary operation, while the older street sweepers are used as required.

The older vehicles, including the three street sweepers, require maintenance and are not as frequently used due to the availability of newer, more efficient units, it said.

In addition, the City has undertaken an intensive education campaign to promote environmental cleanliness among community members.

The eThekwini Municipality criticised what it described as a “witch-hunt” by the DA to mislead the public, affirming its commitment to maintaining the city’s cleanliness.

The DA, however, said the City blocking their access to the DSW premises on Monday for an oversight visit was “destructive, unconstitutional, and aimed at weakening our oversight obligation and avoiding accountability,”

Nzamo said this obstruction occurred despite prior notifications and invitations extended to Noluthando Magewu, the Acting Head of Cleansing and Solid Waste (CSW), and Sibusiso Makhanyal, the Deputy City Manager for Trading Services, neither of whom joined the oversight visit.

Last week, the DA claimed to have received assurances from the City’s Head of Fleet that responses regarding the purchase and operation of these vehicles were ready. This was corroborated by the Deputy Head of CSW.

However, the DA alleges that the vehicles were quietly moved from the depot, raising further suspicions.

Nzamo said that the blocking of the DA’s inspection suggests that the City has much to conceal regarding the procurement and usage of these mini street sweeper vehicles.

“In our pursuit of the truth and holding the ANC and EFF accountable, we demand that the Speaker supply answers as this matter is now in the public domain.

“The residents and the ratepayers need to know why such expensive street sweeper machines were bought and why they are not put to use,” Nzamo said.