Concern over the “lake” of sewage that has formed next to the provincial road.
THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Roads and Public Works has declared the R31 between Kimberley and Barkly West as safe for driving purposes but has advised motorists to drive with caution in the area.
An accident took place on the R31 between Kimberley and Barkly West on Sunday morning, where members from the Kimberley SAPS Search and Rescue unit, together with Flying Squad members, rescued a 31-year-old truck driver from drowning in sewage.
The heavy-duty truck plunged into a “lake” of sewage that has formed in the veld after the driver apparently lost control of the vehicle, causing it to veer off the road.
The R31 is the only access route for mining trucks in the Province to transport iron ore and manganese, while there are no alternative detours.
Complaints were lodged by the !Xun and Khwe communities to both provincial and national authorities regarding the raw sewage that has leaked into the veld and which is causing a major environmental hazard.
Farmers in the area have also indicated that they have suffered losses after their livestock drowned in the sewage.
EFF provincial secretary Shadrack Tlhaole said that he was concerned that no decisive action was being taken to address the threat to the environment and human and animal life as the dam of sewage continues to grow.
“The road should be declared a disaster area, where signs must be erected to warn motorists. Our calls for action have fallen on the deaf ears of arrogant so-called public servants. We raised the issue with the municipal manager, who never paid attention to our concerns. The Department of Roads and Public Works, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Sol Plaatje Municipality claimed to have measures in place to ensure that the matter is resolved,” said Tlhaole.
“We have named it ‘Zamani Lake’ to prove how useless the promises made by the premier, Dr Zamani Saul, are, that the Northern Cape is being transformed into a modern, growing and successful province.”
Tlhaole pointed out that the truck was not the first vehicle to have ended up in the overflowing sewage that was spilling onto the national road.
“The road is used everyday by residents, businesses and provincial government officials and it is careless of the government not to take steps to safeguard road users.”
The MEC for Roads and Public Works, Fufe Makatong, along with the MEC for Social Development, Nontobeko Vilakazi, the MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Nomandla Bloem, and the acting HOD for the Department of Roads and Public Works, Ramona Grewan, conducted a site inspection of the R31 provincial road near the Gogga pump station this week.
The spokesperson for the MEC for Roads and Public Works, Bongani McDonald Silingile, stated that the road was fit for purpose.
“The road is drivable and there is no erosion of the road surface as a result of the sewage. The road in the vicinity of the Wildebeeskuil pan is open for traffic and poses no danger to the public. We have law enforcement officials controlling the movement of traffic in the area,’ said Silingile.
“Contrary to false information, the road has neither collapsed nor been flooded with sewage. We caution members of the public not to spread information.”
He stated that road signs were erected to caution road users to reduce their speed.
“We appeal to motorists to ride with caution in the area”.
Silingile added that they started engagements with relevant stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the problem this week, upon instruction of the premier.
“We will meet with the !Xun and Khwe communal property association again on Friday, August 20. We are co-ordinating a collaboration between the Department of Safety and Liaison, Department of Roads and Public Works, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and other stakeholders. Meetings are ongoing and we will engage with the community on the best option available to ensure that road users arrive at their destinations safely. We do not wish to elaborate any further on the matter. We will come up with a comprehensive response to the matter.” Silingile pointed out that they would also engage with the South African National Roads Agency as additional funds would be needed to address the problem.
“We will aso consult with technical experts regarding the treatment and diversion of the water.”
Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie said that infrastructure upgrades to the bulk sewerage system would “ultimately result in better performance of the network”.
He stated that the upgrade to the Barkly and Seleke Street intersection outfall line, which is frequently blocked due to collapsed sewerage pipes, was at 80 percent completion.
“Another project was then implemented to install a designated sewerage line from Gogga pump station to the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Works, which is now complete and operational.”
Matsie added that they plan to replace a nine-metre deep sewerage line to alleviate current challenges on the Eagle Street and Spreeu Street sewerage line in Roodepan.
“The municipality is currently in the construction phase of the Carters Ridge sewage pump station. It will be a newly constructed pump station that will replace the old Hillcrest and Carters Glen pump stations that are currently operating above their design capacity, resulting in blockages.”
Matsie said that sanitation teams would continue to attend to sewage blockages in the surrounding areas.