DA urges Setsoto to address safety hazards

Issued by Riette Dell – DA Councillor Setsoto Local Municipality
17 Apr 2024 in Press Statements

Note to editors: Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Cllr Riette Dell and Sesotho by Karabo Khakhau MP.

The negligence of safety protocols around open manholes and construction sites in Setsoto Local Municipality has led to a significant increase in private claims against the municipality to the amount of R1,105,168, with an additional R13 million in fire damage claims as answered in council on 7 Nov 2023.

Various open manholes and poorly secured construction sites in Setsoto pose severe safety risks. The DA has reported these hazards to the municipality. These hazards are not just inconvenient but potentially life-threatening. Pedestrians and motorists face the risk of serious injuries from falls and accidents, which are more frequent during poor visibility conditions like nighttime or foggy weather. It can also lead to environmental hazards as debris and chemicals enter the water system, causing further public health concerns.

The handling of public safety measures concerning open manholes and construction sites has been met with increasing scrutiny and criticism. Even residents have reported multiple instances where complaints about such dangers were slowly addressed or ignored, contrasting sharply with safety regulations observed in better-managed municipalities. This neglect not only endangers the community but also erodes trust in local governance.

These claims not only burden the local government financially but also strain its resources, diverting funds from other crucial services. For example, case number 1356/2020 resulted in the death of 10-year-old Kananlelo Salemane, who fell into an open drain/uncovered manhole and drowned on 25 March 2017 in Clocolan, a town within the Setsoto Local Municipality.

A municipality under budget constraints does not have the means to pay victims of related accidents that could have been avoided if the municipality had attended to problems and alleviated the risk. This financial impact is coupled with legal battles that further tarnish the municipality’s reputation and compromise its ability to serve the public effectively.

To prevent future incidents and reduce the incidence of legal claims, Setsoto Local Government needs to adopt stringent safety measures and improve infrastructure maintenance. Key strategies include immediate enforcement of safety standards at construction sites, regular inspections, and securing all open manholes with visible warnings. Additionally, enhancing community engagement through awareness programs can educate residents about potential hazards and reporting procedures.

We will continue to exert pressure on the municipality to implement these measures not only to ensure public safety but also to restore faith in local governance, ultimately leading to a safer and more trusting community environment. We will also assist with reporting and evaluating if complaints are attended to.