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Pupils must dodge pools of sewage

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“This resulted in a blockage in the system and a build-up of sewage, which pushed back and flowed out of the drains at a number of houses situated closest to the sewage plant.”

DANGER: Pupils attending Kabang School in Ritchie are playing a potentially deadly game of hopscotch as they are forced to jump over pools of raw sewage on their way to school each morning. Picture: Supplied

PUPILS attending Kabang School in Ritchie are playing a potentially deadly game of hopscotch as they are forced to jump over pools of raw sewage on their way to school each morning.

While Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo stated categorically at the tabling of the 2019/20 budget at the end of March that the city’s sewage crisis was over, residents of Motswedimosa in Ritchie are still facing an ongoing struggle with sewage, which is affecting their daily lives.

A Mokotoi Street resident explained on Friday that the sewage pipe ran past her house and whenever the main pipe was blocked, pools of raw sewage bubbled out of the drain in her yard.

“I can’t go outside and hang up my washing and the smell is so bad that we have to keep all the windows closed. The sewage is also right up against my house and is affecting the walls,” she said.

According to the residents in the area, the main sewage pipe is blocked on a regular basis. “The municipality comes out and clears the blockage, but within two to three days it is blocked again.”

The resident stated that when the municipality unblocked the drain, she had to clean up the mess left behind. “I have even bought soil to be thrown over the area but in a few days time the sewage is back.”

The current problem has been ongoing for more than a week. “We reported it to the municipality but nothing was done and then on Wednesday last week we went in personally to report it again. We were told, however, that the machine that clears the sewage is broken so they cannot help.”

According to the resident, by Friday afternoon the sewage water was lapping at the step leading into her house. “If they don’t clear it very soon, my house will be flooded with sewage.”

She pointed out that schoolchildren at Kabang School had to jump over the river of sewage flowing down Long Street from the overflowing drain in her yard in order to reach the school gates.

“I don’t know what to do any more. I am even considering removing the toilet inside my house and cementing the drain in my yard closed so that the sewage can bubble up elsewhere. I cannot continue to live like this.”

Spokesperson for the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, admitted on Friday that there was a problem with the sewerage network in Ritchie.

“The main pump, which pumps the sewage to the purification works, stopped working about two months ago,” he explained. “A temporary pump was installed while the procurement process was followed for the acquisition of a new pump.”

According to Matsie, last week’s spillage was caused by a delivery hose on the temporary pump which, he said, had come loose. “This resulted in a blockage in the system and a build-up of sewage, which pushed back and flowed out of the drains at a number of houses situated closest to the sewage plant.”

According to Matsie, between 10 to 15 house, were affected last week.

He added that on Friday, municipal employees were on the scene and attempting to fix the temporary pump. “The temporary pump will be used to clear the system, so that the new pump, which has now been procured, can be installed.”

He added that work on the installation of the new pump would start on Saturday. “Although there will be no pumping of sewage while the old pump is repaired or the new pump is being installed, the system should be back online and working again by the end of the weekend. This should alleviate the situation where overflowing sewage is bubbling out of the drains in residents’ yards.”

He added that it was also protocol that chlorine be used to sanitise the area where the sewage had spilled onto the ground.