On Friday, 6 March the residents of Amsterdam came together for a cry for service delivery, to voice their concerns regarding poor service delivery in their town.
The service delivery march was conducted in a positive manner. There were no episodes of public violence, injuries or arrests. The memorandum was received and signed for by a member of the Mayoral Committee, Mr Mnisi at the Amsterdam Municipal Satellite Office on behalf of the Mkhondo Local Municipality’s Executive Mayor, Councillor Vusi Motha.
However, on Thursday, 12 March riots flared up again and this time, it was violent. The road between Amsterdam and Piet Retief was closed due to objects being burned. There were also reports that rocks were being thrown at motorists.
According to information received on a Whats-App group, members of the SAPS had to fire shots in order for the crowd to disperse. The Ermelo/Amsterdam road was also closed although the Amsterdam/Carolina road remained open. During the night the Amsterdam/Piet Retief road was closed once again.
Read also: Thank you for prompt service delivery!
The residents of Amsterdam were advised to stay indoors and it was suggested that motorists use alternative routes. On Friday, the violent behaviour of the protestors continued and the roads were once again closed.
POP members (Public Order Policing) later arrived on the scene and the rioters calmed down. The roads were usable again until later that night when reports of people throwing rocks at vehicles and blocking the roads with trees were the norm once again.
On Saturday the roads were filled with debris and dangerous objects but, the protestors were calm. Nonetheless people were told to avoid the area as far as possible.
The grievances of Amsterdam’s residents are the following:
- They are requesting more information regarding the recently installed generator. Why a local company was not used to provide and install it? How much money is being spent to keep it operational and why are there certain days during which it is unable to provide the town with electricity.
- No clear answer has been given to the residents regarding the construction in Extension 5 and they are eager to know what the state of affairs are.
- During all the blackouts, business – and home owners have suffered immense financial losses and they demand that the person responsible for causing this, be immediately removed from their position at the Mkhondo Local Municipality.
- According to the memorandum which was handed over, the employees of the Amsterdam Local Municipal Satellite Office do not have the information to assist the residents. Apparently workers also sit around and do not conduct their duties such as collecting the garbage bags (for which they get paid).
- They demand that the millions of rands that is owed to ESKOM be paid immediately and request that they be able to buy electricity directly from ESKOM.
- Water tariffs must be reduced per charged cubic metre, dirt roads must be paved and proper storm-water drains must be installed.
The biggest demand from the people of Amsterdam is to be released from falling under the jurisdiction of the Mkhondo Local Municipality and become their own independent municipality. In their memorandum, they also voiced their concerns about the abilities of the current councillors and demanded that they step down from their positions.
As of Tuesday, 17 March the situation in Amsterdam remained calm but, if something drastic isn’t done, the violence could rear its ugly head again without any notice.
Feedback will be given about the outcome once received.