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Premier commends Nala turnaround bid

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Premier Ace Magashule has praised the efforts of Nala Local Municipality executive mayor Theko Mokgotje and his council to turn around the fortunes of the municipality of more than 80 000 people.

Magashule, who was in the municipality to inspect projects being implemented under the provincial government’s Operation Hlasela programme, urged the mayor and his council to make sure the needs and interests of residents were at all times the driving motive of municipal programmes.

The premier was speaking at an event to present vehicles bought by the municipality for use to quicken service delivery in the municipality located to the north-west of the Free State province.

“I know it is very hard on the ground, but our councillors are working hard and trying their level best to improve the lives of our people and I have to tell you that your work does not go unrecognised,” Magashule told the mayor and his council.

The 18 vehicles bought by the council at a cost of R7-million include bakkies that will be used to attend to emergencies such as ferrying repairs teams to go fix blocked or burst sewerage and water pipes.

Mokgotje said a shortage of vehicles needed to ferry municipal work gangs to the various work stations had hampered efforts by his council to step up service delivery.

He said: “My problems are all over; we used to have a serious shortfall with vehicles each time we needed to attend to service delivery issues, but with these new vehicles every problem that we ever faced regarding transport is now a thing of the past.”

The mayor said what was even more pleasing was the fact the vehicles were all bought on cash using money from municipal coffers without having to burden council with debts from banks that normally would have had to loan the local authority money to pay for the cars.

Municipal manager Justice Moseke said it had opted to buy new vehicles rather than continue to invest more money in maintaining its ageing fleet which was becoming more expensive to keep on the road by the day.

“We were trying to move away from the cost of maintaining an old stock of vehicles and decided to purchase these ones so that we are able to live up to our mandate of extending service delivery to our people,” he said.

Local resident Dipuo Mokgethi, 55, commended the municipality for buying the new vehicles, adding residents would no longer accept excuses from council employees failing to collect refuse or attend to emergencies such as burst water pipes on time.

“We can only hope that these cars will be used for the purpose they were bought … municipal workers no longer have any excuse now not to attend to problems such as pipe bursts on time,” she said.

Government builds multi-million recreational park

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The Nala Local Municipality in partnership with the department of sports, arts and culture and the social development department will run the R2-million state-of-the-art park which will be built in Wesselsbron.

The park is part of a township revitalization project by the provincial government and the municipality which is aims to create recreational facilities for young people in the area.

Sam Nyoni, an engineer appointed by the Nala Local Municipality said the park will include a sports field, braai facilities, a car wash and a jungle gym for children.

“We will take at least three months to complete the project as most of the project entails greening and actual facilities that will be bought and erected,” said Nyoni.

Premier, Ace Magashule, said the park is one of greening initiatives which will help revitalise the town.

“We need you to go to Gauteng to research certain parks which have proven successful in those areas,” said Magashule.

Magashule said he would provide the engineer with details of councilors who have previously designed and built successful recreational centers in that province. Resident Modise Mokhalo said he was happy to see the provincial government investing in community infrastructure following the recent service delivery protests that engulfed the town.

Mokhalo said the recreational facility is a symbol of hope and promises for the residents of the town.

“This is not the only change we have seen. The municipality has fixed the toilet in my house and also fixed the water pipes in the whole street, so I believe that this time things will change,” said Mokhalo.

He said some of his family members have been employed in Operation Hlasela projects launched by Magashule in Wesselsbron.

Joint initiative set to complete Wesselsbron houses

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The incomplete housing structures that have been left vacant at Extension 12 in Wesselsbron, a town situated 200km outside of Bloemfontein, will be completed and undergo a major facelift.

The Free State provincial government and Nala Local Municipality have undertaken to develop the 1200 vacant sites and 102 foundations area into a mixed housing project.

The speaker of Nala Local Municipality, Nozilila Mashia, said the project was kick-started three years ago by the then MEC for cooperative governance, traditional affairs and human settlements, Mamiki Qabathe.

“This was part of a land restitution programme by the department of agriculture in partnership with the department of Cogta who came up with an initiative to give the natural inhabitants of the land housing rather than actual land,” said Mashia.

According to Mashia, the residents of the area opted to be built houses rather than be given land. Qabathe said this week that the project was derailed by administrative glitches.

Free State premier, Ace Magashule, has expressed disappointment with the delay in the implementation of the project. Magashule promised local residents that the provincial government will rope in big construction companies to complete the incomplete houses in the next few months.

“We need to create a mixed housing project where black and white people are able to occupy this space. People earning less than R15 000 will also be able to apply for loans and acquire housing in the area,” said Magashule.

The premier said construction will begin in September and the provincial government will develop a proper database of beneficiaries who were earmarked to benefit from the restitution process. He said the beneficiaries will receive bigger and better houses.

Mashia said the municipality will install infrastructure in the earmarked land to ensure that it is ready for construction.

“We want to complete the installation of the infrastructure needed. We are going to install water and sewerage infrastructure as well as electrical cables before the development can take place.

“The housing development will help families whose land was taken away from them and also help those who cannot afford decent housing due to costs. The area is close to a school and so we hope that this will motivate people to buy houses there and enjoy the convenience,” said Mashia.

Nala resumes bucket system eradication project

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Nala local municipality will spend R2-million to completely phase out the bucket toilet system.

Acting technical manager, Phillip Modisadife said while the municipality has already eradicated 4 000 households bucket toilets in the municipality, a decision was made to spend R2-million more for the total eradication of the bucket system in Monyakeng, Wesselsbron.

“Currently, bucket eradication is still not completed in Ward 2 and Ward 3 in Wesselsbron settlements, where about 2 000 household still use bucket toilets. However, those households already have flush toilet structures but only waiting for connection to the main line.

“The construction of the main sewage line in the two wards and connection of toilets is scheduled for completion in May this year,” said Modisadife.

The municipality’s eradication project started in 2007 with two phases. Both phases were completed in ward one and ward four which saw 4 000 households connected to the main sewage line.

He said after the completion of ward two and three, the municipality will resume with a rectification process in wards one and four, where the job was not done properly.

“Work stopped on the project in 2007 after it was realised that the work done by the contractor and consultant appointed at the time, was faulty.”

He said the municipality will need more funding of about R6-million to rectify the shoddy workmanship.

Nala construction of roads creates jobs

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The on-going renovation of roads in Wesselsbron and Bothaville in the poverty-stricken Nala Municipality continues to create job opportunities for the local youth and women.

According to the municipality’s acting technical manager, Phillip Modisadife, the refurbishment of the roads is expected to address the problem of unusable roads in the area.

“The project has two-pronged benefits; apart from paving the roads and giving them a face-lift, the project is also labour-intensive and employs many people. Job creation has always been one of our priorities and we are proud that the proper channels were adhered to when employing workers,” said Modisadife.

The R50 million-project, expected to be completed between May and August, will ease access to taxis, businesses, schools and libraries.

Nala municipal manager Chris Mokomela described the initiative as a success.

“These roads are part of the services we are providing to our people. We build them to allow smooth flow of traffic in the townships. Motorists, who are also rate payers, should feel motivated to continue paying because we do what they want to see happening. However, I must say that we will continue building more roads and creating more jobs,” said Mokomela.

The construction works have employed more than 200 workers.

Kgotsong township gets new tennis courts

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Residents of Kgotsong Township in Bothaville are enthusiastically looking forward to the completion of the tennis court in the area.

The construction of two new tennis courts with ablution facilities, administration block and grand stands is expected to be completed by the end of this month, and the Nala Local Municipality municipal manager, Chris Mokomela, announced that the facility will be opened to the public soon.

During inspection of the courts earlier this week, Mokomela stated that the municipality embarked on the project in response to the needs of the community.

“We hope the construction work will be completed on time so people can start making use of this facility. I would, however, like to plead with the people not to vandalise it when they are aggrieved with anything because it is for the benefit of their children and the future of the township,” said Mokomela.

He added that the municipality is currently upgrading the sports park that is designed to cater for different sporting codes.

“The refurbishment is already underway. We are also bringing down the old tennis court next to new sports park, which is in a state of disrepair.”

“Another of the municipality’s priorities is to strengthen our partnerships with the SAPS and CPFs, with a view to reducing youth involvement in crime. These partnerships have already proved their worth by contributing immensely to the reduction of crime levels here,” concluded Mokomela.

Local residents are eagerly awaiting the advent of spring in August to start using the courts and fine tune their tennis skills.

“We have kids that are growing up and will appreciate making good use of the courts. Since the sport is not for youngsters only, even we old-timers will enjoy spending our weekends there stretching our muscles,” said community member, Motlalepula Mokoena.

The commencement of the project earlier this year has encouraged young people to become professional tennis players.

“I am not a tennis player because I am too old to play tennis or any other sport that requires strenuous physical exertion, but many people – especially our children who are enmeshed in crime – will benefit from this development. I wish that the municipality could also consider refurbishing the sports ground as that would be of great help too,” added Mokoena.

His 12-year old son, Papiki, said he would like to be a professional tennis player one day.

“I want to play tennis and I want to be professional like the tennis stars I see every day on TV,” said Mokoena junior.

Mokomela stabilises municipal finances

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The Nala Local Municipality has improved its financial management systems and increased its expenditure of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG).

The increase in the expenditure means the municipality, which include towns such as Wesselsbron, Bothaville and Hopstad, is spending more money on building roads, sewerage and physical infrastructure.

Nala Local Municipality municipal manager, Chris Mokomela, said the MIG expenditure, which stood to 14 percent when he arrived, has risen to 55 percent.

“I must say that we are no more experiencing problems and municipal finances are no longer been mismanaged. We are careful about our spending and we take careful consideration when taking financial decisions. I need to mention that there has been institutional transformation where we have managed to employ competent people to critical positions.

“We are determined to achieve our main goals of good governance, accountability, issues of skills transfer creating job opportunities and improving our people’s lives,” said Mokomela.

He said the municipality has partnered with the local chamber of business to grow the economy of the area.

“We are working together with our business community and we have signed a memorandum of understanding with them. Our partnership is thriving. We have jointly hosted the annual livestock expo known as NAMPO.”

Mokomela said the municipality has turned its finances around by employing skilled and competent personnel in the finance unit.

“We have managed to enter into an agreement with our creditors; Eskom and Sedibeng water, we pay close to R2-million to them every week and that happens because we are having people with strategies to turn the institution around.”

He is confident that the municipality will achieve a clean audit soon.

“We are foreseeing great success and it is through our combined skills that will enable the municipality to have a clean audit. We have the support of the provincial government. The local chamber of commerce is also doing its outmost best to help us,” said Mokomela.

Local resident, Ntswaki Molehe, said there are signs of progress in the manner in which the municipality is providing basic services.

“We now see changes and we are happy that things are starting to happen. People are paying for the rates and that helps a lot.”

Nala spend millions to fence cemetery

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Nala Local Municipality has spent R1.7-million to restore the vandalized cemetery fence in Monyakeng, Wesselsbron ward 1.

The construction of the cemetery follows complaints by community members about the crumbling of the old fence as well as the desecration of tombstones. Community members also complained that the cemetery had become a hideout for criminals.

The municipality’s acting technical manager, Phillip Modisadife, said the fencing project is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

“The project is 35 percent complete and we are confident that by the end of the month, the whole cemetery will be fenced and secured. This was done to ensure that people respect their departed loved ones and stop violating the cemetery. However, we cannot say that residents are the ones vandalizing the cemetery. However, their stray animals are doing the damage when they are left unattended,” said Modisadife.

Modisadife said the municipality is pleading with community members to respect the dead and stop walking on graves and destroying them.

“We have taken a step forward in drilling and inserting the fence to protect our cemeteries and now we plead with community members to join us by cleaning the premises and show their respect for our late loved ones. If people can understand and know the importance of cemeteries they will never trample on them and will even prevent their animals from destroying the graves.”

Letsatsi Mthimkhulu said living next to the open cemetery has been a traumatic experience.

“I have been staying here for years and seen so many horrible things happening in the graveyard that I regretted living here.

“People got robbed and raped in this cemetery. I think it was sheer luck that no one got murdered, and I am happy that the municipality has decided to secure the yard before that happens” said Mthimkhulu.

Fifteen jobs opportunities were created during fencing of the cemetery.