Home News Public Protector looking into City’s sewer blockages

Public Protector looking into City’s sewer blockages

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Last week the Public Protector tweeted that it had successfully intervened following a complaint by a Kimberley woman about a sewage spillage at her house in Galeshewe.

Oupa Segalwe is the Public Protector’s spokesperson.

THE PUBLIC Protector is in the process of launching a systematic investigation into sewage blockages in Kimberley and surrounding areas.

This was confirmed on Wednesday by spokesperson for the Public Protector SA, Oupa Segalwe.

Segalwe said on Wednesday that the investigation team has already done some groundwork in preparation for the investigation.

Last week the Public Protector tweeted that it had successfully intervened following a complaint by a Kimberley woman about a sewage spillage at her house in Galeshewe.

According to the tweet, the two-year sewer problem had resulted in the woman’s backyard regularly being flooded with human excrement, posing a health hazard to her family.

“The woman from Galeshewe approached the PP, complaining that the manhole got blocked every other week, causing the sewage spillage and an unbearable stench. As a result, her children were unable to play in the garden,” the tweet stated.

“The PP’s inspection of the site revealed that the problem was far worse than reported. Not only was the overflowing manhole flooding the woman’s property, it spilled into the streets and flowed to other houses in the vicinity.

“The PP took up the matter with Sol Plaatje Local Municipality, which confirmed that there was an infrastructural problem affecting the sanitation pipe network in the woman’s neighbourhood. The main pipeline from the Gogga sewer pump station was blocked.

Following this, municipal officials informed the PP that their engineers investigated and re-designed the sanitation infrastructure network in such a way that it is rerouted away from the woman’s property.

Earlier this month, municipal workers began the rerouting process under the watchful eye of PP investigators. The manhole and the related pipes are no longer in the woman’s backyard,” the tweet stated.

Segalwe explained on Wednesday that not all the Public Protector’s investigations resulted in formal reports.

“In fact very few do. This is more so when there is an admission of wrongdoing on the part of the respondent from the get-go, undertaking there and then to make amends. This was one such case. The municipality made an undertaking to the effect that it would fix the problem by June 2020. Therefore there was no need for a formal report with findings and remedial action.”

He added that the issue that was before the Public Protector in this instance was the sanitation manhole which, he pointed out, had turned the complainant’s backyard into a literal cesspool.

“The manhole was not supposed to be there, on private property, in the first place.”

Segalwe stated that the Public Protector’s focus was only on the individual complainant, who approached the office about the undesirable and hazardous situation her household found itself in. As such, the scope of the Public Protector’s intervention did not extend to issues such as whether or not the Gogga pump station is working.”

He added, however, that the Public Protector was currently working on its investigation into sewage issues in the city.

Residents throughout Kimberley repeatedly complain about overflowing sewage that, in some instances, has been, ongoing for months and even years.

Last week, residents in Cassandra reported that the sewerage line in David Harris Avenue has been broken for a long time, allowing raw sewage to flow directly into the stormwater trench leading to Blanckenbergvlei and Du Toit’s Pan.

According to residents in the area, this was a health hazard and an environmental incident which could have dire consequences.

Last month, the DFA reported on raw sewage flooding areas in Santa Ward 30, behind the Barkly West Shopping Complex. Several residents were trapped in their yards as a result of the dams of raw sewage, while the manager of the Barkly West Complex said that two additional pumps had to be installed to stop the sewage from pushing up into the complex.

The dams of raw sewage around the perimeter of the complex saw elderly residents and school children in the area hanging precariously onto a fence to negotiate the green, foul-smelling mess that had flooded at least three roads in the area, while shop-owners built furrows in an attempt to divert the sewage and prevent it from running into their shops.

Picture: Danie van der Lith

In August it was reported that despite spending more than R450 million on upgrades at its sewerage stations in Kimberley, none of the Sol Plaatje Municipality’s sewerage stations were in full working order, posing serious threats to the environment and the health of residents

Again, reports were received of sewage overflow in several parts of the city, including Greenpoint, where sewage was seen flowing into a freshwater pan in Du Toits Pan, risking contamination of the water source and also the spread of serious illnesses.

A month earlier, the Green Scorpions were asked to investigate the raw sewage spills in Galeshewe, Barkly Road and Platfontein.

In the same month, Lerato Park’s phase 1 flats also added their voices to the ongoing complaints regarding overflowing sewage and blocked drains in the city.

Residents in this area said that the disgusting stench of raw sewage had made them prisoners in their homes as they were unable to open their windows or doors.

They said they had been complaining about their blocked drains to the Sol Plaatje Municipality for the past four months, adding that when they flush their toilets, the sewage water bubbled up through their kitchen drains.