City manager looks back with sense of pride

Date: 12 Jun 2007
Flusk aware of the challenges that lie ahead As Patrick Flusk reflects on his first year in office as the city manager of the Ekurhuleni metro, not least of his problems is his chief of metro police, Robert McBride. From the local authority's headquarters in Germiston, Flusk pointed out that due process had to be followed regarding McBride, and if there was evidence against him, the metro would act appropriately. He also highlighted some of his metro police chief's successes, which include: n Devising innovative programmes such as Operation High Velocity, aimed at reducing speed on the metro's freeways; n Devising a method for police to contain strikers in Ekurhuleni and providing assistance to other metros in this regard; n Starting a pilot project aimed at targeting counterfeit goods; n A uniform approach to by-law policing; n Designing by-laws for the metro in preparation for 2010; n Recognised for the best metro police department in SA, and effected the arrests of some of the most wanted and dangerous criminals in the country; n Developed a domestic-violence model that is being seen as a standard model for the country; n Developed the standard for biometric devices such as the MorphoTouch. Flusk said McBride had received a lot of bad press but had never been recognised for the good things he had done in terms of fighting crime. The city manager said the metro faced many challenges. It had the fourth largest municipal budget in the country, a population of nearly 3-million and 112 informal settlements. The settlements and a never-ending stream of people flowing into Ekurhuleni in a quest for jobs, and to improve their lives, were among the challenges. The municipality was also battling huge outstanding debt, and local governments were coming under increasing pressure to become more compliant. "We are subjected to local-government, provincial and national laws," said Flusk, a former deputy director-general in the office of Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi. He said the metro recently evaluated the performances of its various departments, based on a budget linked to the metro's integrated development plan and in line with the principle of batho pele - people first. Flusk was frank about the many complaints they receive about service delivery. He hoped the appointment of 17 customer centre managers and the location of the centres within walking distance of the communities would make it easier for residents to do business with the metro. Capital expenditure in the new financial year focused on upgrading water, stormwater and sanitation reticulation, with a dedicated plan for electricity, because of its importance to the economy. "There is a need for all our departments to work closely in order to drive service delivery," said Flusk. The metro was facing a serious skills shortage - 11 engineers left last month for better prospects, forcing the local authority to engage engineering institutions to replace the lost skills. "We are also approaching retired civil engineers and plan to piggy-back on the national drive to recruit engineering skills from overseas," Flusk said. The 2010 World Cup had galvanised the metro into drawing new investment to the region as from this year, with special emphasis on manufacturing and exporting, and with black economic empowerment and affirmative action still top of the agenda. "And poor as we are, we would like to take batho pele to a higher level," Flusk said. He promised that the metro would consult residents affected by the proposed developments before they were implemented. "The upgrades are critical to accommodating increasing air traffic and the escalating passenger figures. Acsa's land spills over into our jurisdiction, and we have signed agreements of understanding because Acsa will be affected by the metro's by-laws and traffic laws." By Anna Louw The Star 12/06/07 e1