Lately, and of great concern, is the fact that our city councils’ public services are in a state of disrepute. Our cities are untidy as standards have declined.
Although some city council workers have demonstrated commendable efforts, one however remains of the opinion they were not firing on all cylinders in discharging their duties.
Take Lilongwe City as a subject of discussion, for instance. Poor sanitation has almost become a normalcy in its flea and other markets. Filth and rot rule in these places. And inconsistencies in the council’s refuse collection, allows garbage heaps to sustain.
Sometimes, even clogged sewer pipes are left unattended for longer periods. That poses an underlying health hazard. Besides the foul stench causing discomforts, the waste gushing out may stream down into usable water bodies. Residents in contact with such contamination could be at risk of waterborne diseases.
And there is an outcry as most public schools have their ablution blocks dysfunctional. In worst scenarios, toilets have had to be sealed off. It needs not be overemphasized that non-availability of toilets in schools is a human rights violation.
Maintenance too for the city’s secondary roads has taken very long. Most have thus degenerated to very appalling conditions, to the bemusement of users.
Further, it is very important that the council rejuvenate the Lilongwe Community Centre. If not, then let it be sub-contracted to others. Our youths could utilise such as an escape from life’s harmful habits.
Something is crippling the council’s operations. One though believes from a microscopic point of view that poor management is the root.
Lilongwe City urban is very small. Three or four refuse trucks should supposedly be sufficient to effectively do the job.
A city’s landmarks are its face. The sight of so many unappealing commercial buildings taking shape in the city is, therefore, very disheartening-more so their sub-standard finishing. The question of quality assurance aside, one wonders too if at all building inspection is conducted.
Such doubts cast a shadow over those in office. And it erodes the public trust in their city council. They expect the council`s insistence upon architectural designs befitting a capital city.
The council too ought to cramp down on all illegal and disorderly infrastructures. Town planning defines a city. And development charges quoted should make sense with services provided, i.e. road networks development.
And the street-vending melodrama could amicably be resolved if the council provided alternative market space. Cramming a mammoth of vendors into a tiny flea market is catastrophic.
By mandate of the Local Government Act, the council should enforce liquor licence regulations. Loud music from joints conducting their business round the clock has become a nuisance.
Lastly, it is incoherent for the council to be broke. If it precisely accounted for every plot in the city, and they all paid city rates, the returns could be incredibly huge.
Upgrading its existing estate properties to modern status too should help attract corporate clientele for tenancy. Or the council may use some as collateral against bank loans, and use the funds for other income generating activities. The council’s lodge for instance.
Nevertheless, city residents too are an accomplice in this crime through vandalism of public property and littering all over town instead of designated facilities. Defaulting on taxes also affects a council’s cash-flow. Funding from government aside, councils mostly rely on city rates and other revenues. Demeaning the significance of such taxes is regressive.
On that note, it maybe time city councils switched to electronic if city rates revenue collection is to be optimised, and for efficiency. The door to door or snail-mail form of billing is ancient.
Some estate property owners are in diaspora. This results into their accounts accruing huge arrears in outstanding debts.
Finally, if councils’ public services are to improve, let it start with us. And allow councils to operate politics-free. Or this public disservice is stuck onto us like a blackjack. n