The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) says the country’s roads now have an estimated 25 million potholes — around seven million more than the estimated households

The largest metro in the country and one of the continent’s economic hubs is, to an increasing extent, racing towards total dysfunctionality. The City of Johannesburg has now joined other municipalities that have been declared dysfunctional. Traffic lights and gaping potholes go unrepaired for longer periods. Stretches of municipal roads and major arterial routes are littered with multiple yawning potholes that take forever to be repaired. There is also the mammoth challenge of chronic power outages, especially after rainstorms, that can take days to be sorted out. Refuse collection, electricity and water supply have become inconsistent and random in some parts of the city, while in others it is a permanent feature.
In September reported that Joburg faces a mammoth task of clearing R300billion infrastructure backlog – with only R7.7BN.

Mayor Mpho Phalatse was reported as saying a sizeable share of the capital budget of R1.2 billion had been allocated to City Power. “City Power requires R26 billion, but we can allocate a fraction of that – R1.2 billion in [capital expenditure], and R1.6 billion in [operational expenditure] – in this financial year,” Phalatse said at the time. Nickolaus Bauer, the spokesperson for the City’s Environment and Infrastructure Service Department (EISD) told news24: “The backlogs at the department came from City Power which needed R26 billion in infrastructure repairs, Joburg Water, which needed R20 billion, and Pikitup, which needed R700 million. “City Power and Joburg Water need the most urgent repairs to their infrastructure, which will cost R12 billion and R8 billion, respectively.”

The cost of fixing the crumbling infrastructure, which has doubled since 2018, is not the only challenge faced by the city. Financial woes continue to besiege Joburg, resulting in some service providers not being paid. As if that was not enough, there is growing concern that the salaries of the City’s employees could be affected as well. In a statement, the ANC has confirmed it has learnt that service providers have halted their services in the City of Johannesburg due to the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) poor management of the City’s finances.
“It has come to our attention that the City’s fleet service provider has grounded its services due to non-payment by the City of Johannesburg. This non-payment of service providers is an unprecedented cause for concern”. These latest developments follow the revelations made by ANC JHB during a media briefing a week ago, which painted a gloomy financial outlook which signals the imminent collapse of the municipality. At the time the ANC said, the City of Johannesburg is about to collapse – the hands that are holding onto the City are on the brink of defaulting on major obligations such as delaying payments to major creditors.

The revenue underperformance for the financial year ended June 2022 the City’s billing for services was below budget by R3,4 billion while overspending on the purchase of these bulk services by R342 million.
The City achieved an operating deficit of R1 billion against a budgeted operating surplus of R1,1 billion resulting in underperformance for the year of R2,1 billion. This underperformance was mainly due to a higher underperformance in revenue compared to the level of underspending in expenditure.
The City is losing a significant amount in electricity and water. In June the losses peaked at 30% and 32% respectively: an increase from 29% and 25% in June 2021

This reflects a deterioration in the management of losses as the City pays in full for these services but a significant part thereof is lost in technical and non-technical losses. The revenue underperformance has continued in the first quarter ending October 2022 where revenue was under collected by R1,5 billion in three months. “As the ANC in Johannesburg, we are not surprised by these disappointing developments as they serve as confirmation of our assertion that more financial woes are set to flood the City. The unfortunate repercussions of these developments are that over 30 000 employees will be affected as they are likely to go unpaid in December 2022, should the City’s cash position not be urgently salvaged.
“The ANC in Johannesburg calls on Mayor Mpho Phalatse and the DA-led coalition to take full responsibility for the instability in the City of Johannesburg and to desist from misleading the residents of Johannesburg by hiding what is now in the public domain about service delivery and the state of City’s finances.

“It has also come to our attention that the payment of salaries in the City is preceded by a high level of anxiety every month due to the low level of cash available to the City. This is also confirmed by an increase in the number of key municipal entities in overdraft positions, such as City Power (R8 billion), Joshco (R1,3 billion) and Metrobus (R520 million).” Executive Mayor Mpho Phalatse’s spokesperson, Mabine Seabe strongly denied that the City was experiencing financial constraints. He also denied payments of salaries will be affected, curtly saying: “It’s just an ANC propaganda.”
South African Municipal Workers Union’s (Samwu) Gauteng Provincial Treasurer, Karabo Ramahuma said they were aware that the City has financial challenges. However, they are just not aware of how far deep the problem is because the City is not being honest with them.

“They are not saying they have financial problems. They think we are okay when they say salaries will not be affected. It’s not only about salaries. We rely on a number of things. It means they can’t pay service providers for instance. Therefore, they will not be able to pay people who procure tools of trade for us, like uniforms for instance.

“We thought the City should be coming out openly, so we can meet each other halfway. But should our salaries be affected, I am sure they will not be only daring Samwu but the workers. Everybody will be in the streets. You see they have been saying we are on strike-we are not. But should they not be able to honour any of our salaries, we definitely going on strike,” Ramahuma warned. The City’s residents are the worst hit as service delivery has been grossly affected. The ANC emphasised that, to this end, the residents of Johannesburg can forget about refuse collection, working traffic lights, water provision and other related service delivery imperatives as the DA continues to plunge the City into deeper crisis.

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