BY KABO LETLHOGELA
The North West Provincial Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Education has resolved to call Moretele local municipality to account on the difficult conditions of Mphebatho Library in Dertig village near Makapanstad.
This follows the committee’s oversight visit to the library where it discovered that Mphebatho library does not comply with the relevant library services’ norms and standards.
The culture, arts and traditional affairs officially handed over the library project to the municipality for construction at R4.5 million and general administration after completion in March 2012.
Amongst some of challenges found at the library were unavailability of ordinary library services such as reference services, free public internet connection, educational material, audio materials, outreach programmes, one photocopying machine was not functional due to lack of internet connection and toners.
The chairperson of the committee, Boitumelo Moiloa said: “Lack of maintenance and serious water and sanitation problems as ablution facilities are not working. There is no electricity and building certificate to confirm that the library meets the norms and standards and there are continuous electricity cuts due to improper wiring, serious staff shortages as the six staff personnel are always overloaded with work without any incentives.”
Moiloa said they find the conditions at the library appalling and unacceptable for library usage by the learners and community.
“Whoever is responsible for the library services in the municipality must explain how our people can cope with the dreadful conditions at the library where there is no public internet access; air-conditioning; water and sanitation and security services and how the staff and community are not adequately supported as they are demoralised.
“The conditions that the staff operates in are very inhumane and dangerous for their lives. Lot of services are not provided such as public internet access services; book preservation; the security system and there is no air-conditioning yet there are no consequences.
The library cannot operate without clean water and toilets as it provides a very important facility to the community which includes learners and students for various education and recreational reasons,” she said.
Moiloa added that there was also no maintenance plan for the building which experiences flooding during rainy days and in some instance where a ceiling collapsed thus damaging study materials and electricity,” said Moiloa.
The Head of the Library Rirhandzu Chuma said they have made many pleas to the municipality to no help.
“We are working under unsafe and hazardous conditions where the municipality is not assisting us with anything including implementation of the proposed business plan and rely on the community to maintain the library. Part of our proposed business plan was requests of pit toilets and clean water due to water and sanitation challenges but it fell on deaf eyes.
“In the case of fire, we will have a serious problem as the fire extinguishers expired in 2013 and were never replaced. There are municipal water tinkering services in the area but we can’t access them due to unclean water tanks. We use our own money to access internet; buy water and cleaning material as the maintenance budget is not enough,” said Chuma.
She said the library is also struggling with storage of books and equipment as external stakeholders such as University of South Africa and community members are committed to donate books and library material.
Moiloa said the department should urgently address some of the challenges such as water and maintenance; internet connections, electricity and air-conditioning ,and provide a detailed report on the status of libraries in the province in seven (7) working conditions. She also requested the Head of Library to submit a comprehensive report on all the challenges faced by the library.