Wednesday, August 17, 2022
HomeNEWSMPs roasts Emfuleni municipality mayor for letting sewage run into homes

MPs roasts Emfuleni municipality mayor for letting sewage run into homes

“Faeces is faeces and if you’re a normal human being, you can see that the sewage is overflowing and getting into people’s homes, but it’s business as usual. The majority of you are from the party I come from, which is a caring movement, and you can see the spillage getting into this man’s home, but you don’t do anything about it. I want to know about the long-term plans. This is a crisis and it is a time-bomb you’re sitting on,” said Faith Mutambi, an ANC MP and chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on environment, forestry and fisheries.

MPs this week had to bear the stench of sewage spills during their visit to Boipatong in Vanderbijlpark.

Mutambi, ANC MP Robert Mashego, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on water and sanitation, and DA MP Cheryl Phillips visited the township this week, where they expressed their dismay and disgust at the sewage running into residents’ homes.

ELM Executive Mayor Sipho Radebe

Mutambi confronted Emfuleni Local Municipality mayor Sipho Radebe and water services authority entity Metsi a Lekoa’s chief director Madoda Besani in full view of community members, who were part of the engagement.

The delegation, along with the community members, went to the home of Majoro Meyi, who has had dirty, foul-smelling water flowing into his house for months.

He is just one of the people who have been affected by this problem, according to the Reliable Environmental Protection & Care Agency (Repca), the community group responsible for alerting the portfolio committee to the problem.

Mutambi said that it was unacceptable that it was Radebe’s first visit to Boipatong since he had been elected mayor in November, and that it was a pity that those who had voted for him were being treated in this manner.

She said:This poor man [Meyi] can’t litigate because he doesn’t have the resources and doesn’t know what to do. It’s unfair and inhumane. I’m speaking to you as the mayor. This is criminal; I should be opening a legal case. I can smell the stench, even with my mask on, but this man must sleep with it, eat with it and do everything with it

Repca spokesperson Steve Moloko expressed relief and appreciation for the MPs’ presence in Boipatong, and said he believed there would be some sort of recourse in the future.

The organisation has tried to seek assistance from government for two years, but claims that the Gauteng department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs told it to “get lost” when it asked for assistance.

The community faces many issues, but the most glaring one is the stench that permeates the air as the government officials walk along the streets.

The township has hardly any tarred streets and its roads are riddled with potholes.

Moloko said:We believe someone will listen to us and try to effect change, given that the chairperson is seeing for herself all these things that have been happening for the past two to three years

Frustrated community member Phaladi Taapi said that the sewage woes became severe when the local municipality decided to build cottages for residents.

“The problem started when the municipality built back rooms for us because the infrastructure was only enough to cater for our houses, so the sewers became blocked,” he explained.

Besani agreed, adding that the problem could have been avoided if the town had followed the proper procedures for building the additional structures in people’s homes.

Besani said:The challenge here is that the infrastructure’s old and is working over capacity at the moment. All these lines are midblock and some of the back rooms are built on the lines, which exacerbates the problem

Not only is the infrastructure outdated and in very poor condition, there is also an overall lack of maintenance that causes the Rietspruit catchment to experience regular spillages, resulting in environmental pollution. For more than five years, water quality results from the catchment have indicated that the water there is steadily deteriorating.

The department has appointed Rand Water as an implementing agent of the section 63 Vaal River System Intervention project in the Emfuleni Local Municipality for a period of three years. The agreement was signed on October 5. The estimated total cost of the intervention is R7.6 billion and, so far, the department has transferred R100 million to Rand Water to kick-start operations and site establishment.

Radebe believes this intervention will bring much-needed relief to the community.

“When national government decided to put Emfuleni under section 63, which is the Water Act, we saw that something was being done to mitigate the problem – which started even before we had democracy.

“We’re trying to [address the issue] by all means, hence this section 63 intervention. I can assure you that, by next year this time, if you come here, you’ll see a different Emfuleni. Many of the complaints of the community are because of frustrations and lack of communication about what will happen. I am happy about this visit, [we have gained] more insight into what’s happening,” he said.

Phillips said the group would be visiting the area again soon to see whether any progress had been made.

“They always say: ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ Perhaps we could change the gentleman’s house from where the sewage flows.

“That would be a start, but we need to come back and make sure that the instructions are implemented,” she said.

–City Press



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