Those who find themselves in emergency situations on the West Rand could be in more trouble than they think because protesting municipality workers are preventing critical services from being carried out.
A fleet of emergency vehicles, several fire engines and community safety vehicles are under lockdown at the premises of the bankrupt West Rand District Municipality in Randfontein.
The municipality invested R77m in the now liquidated VBS Mutual Bank, despite facing serious financial woes.
Scores of workers staged a sit-in at the building.
Pitso Mogole, West Rand secretary of the Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Demawusa), vowed that workers would not respond to emergencies as long as their dispute had not been resolved.
Mogole said private emergency companies would attend to accidents and would have to send the bill to the municipality.
"How are we going to go out and work when we are in deep financial problems? We have brought everything to a standstill. This municipality is expected to render essential services to the public. If we are indeed rendering essential services, then we should be treated as such. We have received calls of fire breakouts and we can't attend to them in this current situation," he said.
Yesterday, workers used the municipal fleet to drive to the office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura to deliver a memorandum which Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi accepted.
"Lesufi has made an undertaking about the assessment of the situation of this municipality. He said he was in possession of the assessment report. He promised that the municipality will be placed under administration," he said.
Workers are blaming the provincial government for not attending to their problems and rescuing the municipality timeously.
"They are clearly giving a silent message we are not essential. To date, we have not seen the mayor (Boysie Maneli) and other political leaders, heads of department and other critical leaders, here for a while now. We are on our own," he said.
Despite the municipality facing one critical financial crisis after the other, it continues to lease a fleet of vehicles and pays for fuel, forking out large amounts of cash to pay service providers, Mogole added.
"We are on duty by coming here daily. [What] we want [is that] when they communicate that money will be paid, we must be here to hear first-hand. These problems here are affecting us financially and psychologically. Some of our members are now suffering from chronic diseases," he said.