City to phase in customer feedback system

Disability access on Albertyn Road.

The City of Cape Town is going to be phasing in a new customer feedback system early in the new year.

This relates to maintenance and repairs to infrastructure across the city, says Sharon Cottle, the mayoral committee member for corporate services.

This was in response to a suggestion and enquiries from Muizenberg resident Kevin Rack, who is a member of the Muizenberg Lakeside Ratepayers’ Association (MLRA).

He was asking for an open public job docket so residents can follow up with constructive feedback and check on the progression of the work and whether it is compliant with disability friendly standards.

“For example, estimated time of completion, who the contractor on site is and, most importantly, who signed off the job. The City has to place more importance on not only the time to completion but if the work is compliant with regulations and it is safe,” he said.

Mr Rack is a community volunteer, having served on the Muizenberg Improvement District and the False Bay Tourism and Business Association boards. He has also worked with the neighbourhood watch and the Muizenberg Community Action Network.

Mr Rack said the MLRA was committed to the upliftment of Muizenberg.

“So, while my portfolio is environmental, we are highlighting infrastructure issues and reporting-and-feedback structures to make the communication between the citizen and the City efficient and streamlined,” he said.

He said he was impressed with the City’s staff, its commitment to deliverables and reporting services.

“We are looking at making the reporting system more transparent by asking the City to add more steps in the process for community feedback. We are following up on repairs to infrastructure, especially roadworks,” he said.

He wanted to know from the City who followed up and inspected jobs completed by its contractors to check that disability features such as kerb cuts were included and that repairs to roads and burst water mains were adequate.

Megan Cross, co-founder of the disability-rights organisation, Believe In Schatzi, said disability access was a constant battle.

“There are so many empty promises from the City, and we never see the changes. This City is not inclusivity minded,” she said.

Mr Rack said he had found that burst pipes in roads could take up to a month or longer before being repaired.

“The problem created is usually an unsightly hole or indentation in the road surface, which further deteriorates as a result of incomplete repair work. Another concern was loose stones left in these indentations which then pose a risk of damaging cars.”

Ms Cottle could not give specific feedback on how long each repair should take, but she said there were standards for each service category, and the City had more than 500 service categories.

On a walk around Muizenberg with Mr Rack, we encountered City staff who were logging a water leak in Vlei Road.

We spoke to a contractor, Lerry Ivan, who explained that the City’s reporting service logged repairs needing to be made and then doled the work out to contractors.

“As contractors on the ground we run into some difficulties. They seem like small things, but it ends up being complicated,” he said.

He said that when lamp posts were replaced, like they had been along the beachfront in Muizenberg, the repair work should be done to match. However, in many places, the bricks the contractors dug up were often stolen.

“Which means we must now go find other bricks. Then people say it looks bad. Sometimes there are no bricks, and we have to tar the area, and then residents don’t like that,” he said.

He said manufacturers changed their bricks often so if the repair work was at a much later date, it was sometimes hard to get the same colour or shape of bricks.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste, said water pressure had been reduced in Muizenberg, below the Main Road and above Zandvlei, to reduce the risk of pipe failure there because the infrastructure was old and some sections were more prone to failure at high pressure.

Mayor Dan Plato, along with Felicity Purchase, mayoral committee member for transport, visited the City’s roads repair team on Monday November 2 as it fixed potholes left by the rainy season.

The City says 10 186 potholes have been fixed since June 1.

Road-maintenance teams had not been deemed essential services under level 5 lockdown so had been unable to do preventative road maintenance prior to the rainy season, Mr Plato said.

“This meant that staff now have to work hard to catch up while operating at reduced capacity, to adhere to the Covid-19 health and safety regulations. From October this year, depot staff reached an operating capacity of 70%. With warmer weather conditions on the way and the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, we can now intensify our efforts,” he said.

Report potholes to the Transport Information Centre at 080065 6463. This is a 24/7 information centre and is toll-free from a landline or a cellphone. Or email Transport.Info@capetown.gov.za