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City of Cape Town says residents are cause of raw sewage crisis in Khayelitsha

6 May 2021 9:22 AM
Tags:
Khayelitsha
Sewer system
City of Cape Town
Sewer overflow

Xanthea Limberg says sewer blockages in Site B and Site C are a result of residents blocking drains and vandalism of the pumps.

On Wednesday Refilwe Mooto spoke to environmentalist and longtime Khayelitsha, Site C resident Siya Sokomani about how there seems to be no political will to solve what is clearly a health threat in the area.

He says for years rivers of sewerage simply flow through the streets, around businesses, and into homes. School children have to pass through it daily, and some kids have even taken to clearing the waste for a price.

Photos show entire streets covered from pavement to pavement in flowing effluent.

Siya says he and fellow residents regularly report the situation to council, but all they get are reference numbers, and no help.

He adds that budget restraints are also cited as the most common reason for the problem not being addressed.

RELATED: Khayelitsha kids clear raw sewage - environmentalist Siya Sokomani

Refilwe speaks to Alderman Xanthea Limberg, the City of Cape Town's Mayco member for water and waste about these concerns around rivers of sewerage flowing through the streets of Khayelitsha.

The City is aware of the sewer incident in Khayelitsha.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

She says the sewer blockages in both Site B and Site C are a result of two factors.

We are still finding many items in the sewer that should not be there leading to blockages.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

The second factor, she says, is vandalism.

But the most severe impact is probably as a result of the more recent vandalism of the Site B pump station. That pump station is quite a critical infrastructure in terms of the sewer network there.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

The entire pump station has been stripped clean. The Ekm cable lines were first stolen and then everything else in the pump station was removed.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

The City is in the process of refurbishing that pump station and as a contingency measure, we have mobile pumps operating to assist with operations for both Site B and Site C.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

The City is also doing proactive cleaning of sewer lines with the jet machines in those areas due to the high levels of blockages.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

Our teams are there continuously. But they are being escorted by law enforcement because unfortunately over the last few months we have also seen a high level of attacks and targetting of our staff and vehicles.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

We are doing all that we can in the current circumstances.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

Why then has this raw sewage spillage been going on for three years, asks Refilwe?

Limberg insists the vandalism has escalated only recently. As for residents blocking up sewers, she says this has been a longstanding pattern that the City has addressed with residents through education.

We do a door-to-door awareness around this...to ensure that the system is not misused.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

The sewer system cannot process things like rags, newspapers, feminine hygiene products, and nappies that we are finding quite often in the system.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

Limberg acknowledges the sewer problems are occurring all over the city, not just in Khayelitsha.

When over the course of the three years does one look at the strategy and the way they are addressing it and say maybe we need a new strategy?

Refilwe Moloto, CapeTalk Breakfast presenter

Is it an education issue or a budgetary constraint? Residents claim they have been told by the City that there is no budget, adds Refilwe.

Limberg insists the teams proactively clean the sewers with the jet machines in Khayelitsha more frequently than in any other area.

From a larger infrastructure upgrade programme we have a master plan that schedules upgrades to meet demands.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

For example, right now, we are in the process of upgrading the water network in Khayelitsha at a cost of just over R180 million - part of the long-term master plan to upgrade both our sewer and water networks to accommodate growth.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

There has been unplanned growth in the city in the form of land invasions.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco Member Water and Waste Services - City Of Cape Town

Listen to the interview with Xanthea Limberg in the audio below:

Photo by Siya Sokomani of Maphongwane Ave in Site C Khayelitsha



6 May 2021 9:22 AM
Tags:
Khayelitsha
Sewer system
City of Cape Town
Sewer overflow

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