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Illegal dumping poses danger to aircraft

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Illegal dumping on the road leading to the city’s airport has erupted, posing a danger to aircraft.

Pictures: Supplied

WHILE the city’s executive mayor, Patrick Mabilo, together with the Department of Roads and Public Works, launched a “Pothole Repair and Cleaning Project” in Kimberley recently, illegal dumping on the road leading to the city’s airport has erupted, posing a danger to aircraft.

Besides the escalating problem of illegal dumping, a massive pan has also formed in the area, believed to be as a result of a burst water pipe.

According to a member of the public, illegal dumping has for many years been a problem in the area, a large portion of which belongs to the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

“The problem just escalated during the lockdown period,” the resident said. He added that attempts to take photographs of the culprits often resulted in flared tempers, threats and victimisation.

“Of greater concern, however, is the impact that this will have on the airport. Airfields cannot be built close to dumping sites as they attract birds, which poses a serious danger to flights taking off and landing at the airport. Air commuters are being placed at risk due to potential bird hits,” he added.

“Allowing garbage around the airport attracts birds and thereby puts the life of passengers as well as the residents of the area in danger.”

According to the Department of Water Affairs’ Waste Management Series document, it is a minimum requirement that no landfill site may be developed in an area with an inherent fatal flaw. “The following situations may represent fatal flaws in that they may prohibit the development of an environmentally or publicly acceptable waste disposal facility: 3 000m from the end of any airport runway or landing strip in the direct line of the flight path and within 500m of an airport or airfield boundary. This is because landfills attract birds, creating the danger of aircraft striking birds.”

The pan in the area, which contains millions and millions of litres of fresh water that has been bubbling out of a burst water pipe is also a source of major concern.

According to the resident, the pan stretches all the way from the Puma garage and the water is now flowing over the road into Ronaldsvlei farm. “This has been leaking for more than two years already and has been reported to the municipality on several occasions.”

He added that the concern was the danger the pan posed to the railway line. “At one stage, the municipality indicated that they couldn’t fix the leak as the pipe ran under the railway line so arrangements needed to be made to stop the running of the trains. However, the unstable ground, due to the volume of the water, is also a danger to the railway line.”

At Kamfers Dam, the tracks had to be lifted at enormous costs because a section of the line was submerged due to the excessive water in the area.

According to reports at the time, Transnet Freight Rail and the Sol Plaatje Municipality co-funded the restoration project with the entities contributing R74 million and R18 million respectively. “The economy and the people of this region suffered tremendously when the rail line was flooded,” the then Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, said at the official reopening of the line.

Besides the danger posed to trains, the volume of water being lost on a daily basis has also raised concerns.

According to the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, in a Parliamentary response, the Sol Plaatje Municipality lost 12.345 billion litres of water in the 2018/19 financial year.

Last month, the Sol Plaatje Municipality, in conjunction with the provincial Department of Roads and Public Works, launched its “Pothole Repair and Cleaning Project”, but the focus is limited to Roodepan, Galeshewe, Colville and Floors.

Municipal spokesperson Thoko Riet said in response yesterday that the land near the airport that had been subject to illegal waste disposal was not owned by the Sol Plaatje Municipality but was under private ownership.

Riet added that the municipality would also urgently look into the issue of the leaking pipe resulting in the dam of water in the area.