A municipal project which started a week ago to improve sewage at two schools in France, Pietermaritzburg, has been stopped by members of the community, GroundUp reported.
The residents say the schools should not be prioritised over residents. They were also unhappy about the hiring procedures of project workers.
On Tuesday, residents prevented the workers from starting construction. The schools expected to benefit are Slangspruit Primary, Mvuzo High and Mpumelelo Primary.
Mduduzi Hlongwane, chairperson of the People's Housing Process in Ward 13, said the municipality had promised residents a R70m sewage project at a meeting three years ago.
"They must do what they promised us. We were told the project would benefit all of us. Residents still use the bucket system toilets. It's been 21 years," said Hlongwane. "They don't even empty these toilets. Now they introduce a project only for schools. This project will not continue until the municipality gives us answers. We want to know what happened with the project they promised."
But Ward 13 councillor Sibongile Mncwango said she had called a meeting to inform the residents about the project. She added that the project was also for Ward 18.
"I asked them if they agree with the project starting with the schools. They had an opportunity on that day. Stopping the project is not helping anyone," said Mncwango.
Resident Sbusisiwe Ndlela said there were unemployed members of the community who had been hoping to be hired for the project.
"We are seeing people who are not from this ward. One of the reasons we are stopping the project is favouritism in hiring. They should hire local people. Most people in this ward are unemployed. We are poor," said Ndlela.
But Mncwango said: "Working together with the ward committee and ward assistants, we called a meeting. People who came to that meeting were hired. We cannot take all the people, but of those who came, some are working."
Spokesperson for Msunduzi Municipality Thobeka Mafumbatha said: "The decision to prioritise the two schools was taken in consultation with the members of the community of both wards 13 and 18. Such a consultative process is the norm with any project prior to its implementation and is done by the respective ward councillors."
Mafumbatha said the waterborne sanitation project covered schools and households. She said the municipality's water and sanitation unit was requesting budgetary provisions to roll out the project to households in line with its business plan.
"The project is being implemented in phases in accordance with the funding allocated. The Reticulation Project that is currently being undertaken is at the cost of R4 875 163 ... The poor condition of toilets in these schools had to be taken into consideration. Therefore, the municipality was not aware that the residents had concerns regarding the current project which is going to provide proper sanitation in the schools attended by their children," she said.