Stink: call for lower rates


DE­SPITE res­i­dents in Phoenix get­ting a re­prieve from the stench in the area af­ter 700 tons of sewage sludge was trucked out last week, their neigh­bours in Ot­tawa con­tinue to be bur­dened by the odour.

The stench was caused by an over­flow of sludge at the Phoenix Waste Wa­ter Treat­ment Works lo­cated near the Oh­lange River in Ot­tawa.

On Fri­day, about 700 tons of sewage sludge was trans­ported by three trucks, which car­ried over 20 tons of sludge per trip, to the Mere­bank Waste Wa­ter Treat­ment Works.

While the res­i­dents in Phoenix can fi­nally step out­side their homes, those in Ot­tawa, near Veru­lam, are still be­ing af­fected and have is­sued an ul­ti­ma­tum to the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

They want the suf­fo­cat­ing and on­go­ing stench erad­i­cated with im­me­di­ate ef­fect and while pro­cesses are put into place, they have called for their rates to be re­duced.

The outraged res­i­dents also de­cided, among other things, to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity, they said, was fail­ing to tackle the prob­lem and had vi­o­lated their rights to a clean, healthy en­vi­ron­ment.

They spoke out af­ter the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s waste wa­ter treat­ment of­fi­cials out­lined the pro­cesses un­der way to deal with the stench at a meet­ing at the Ot­tawa Hall on Thurs­day, a day be­fore the sludge re­moval.

The meet­ing was held un­der the aus­pices of the Ot­tawa En­vi­ron­men­tal Fo­rum, which has been mak­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity about the odour for more than a decade.

Res­i­dents told mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials they had had enough of the stench and wanted con­fir­ma­tion that the smell would be erad­i­cated at a fol­low-up meet­ing to­mor­row at the Ot­tawa Hall.

“We can­not put up with this un­healthy state of af­fairs any longer,” said res­i­dent and com­mu­nity leader Charles Goven­der. He said de­spite their sta­tus as rate and tax­pay­ers, they were be­ing treated with con­tempt by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“The mu­nic­i­pal­ity must stop treat­ing us as if they can take us for granted. We are fed up and want to live in a clean and fresh en­vi­ron­ment like we have been do­ing all the decades we have been stay­ing here.”

Fel­low res­i­dent Atom Dil­raj said: “We want this stench erad­i­cated now and not in 10 or 20 years.”

The fo­rum’s fa­cil­i­ta­tor, Andisha Ma­haraj, said the air qual­ity in Ot­tawa had de­gen­er­ated be­cause of the sewer works plant.

“All our rep­re­sen­ta­tions have been to­tally ig­nored and now, in 2017, the air qual­ity is 10 times worse than 2012. The plans to ex­pand the treat­ment works has a di­rect bear­ing on the in­fras­truc­tural plans we may have for Ot­tawa. The eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity must ac­knowl­edge that it has planned very poorly and must clean up the stink im­me­di­ately.”

Ma­haraj said their rates should be re­duced, while pro­cesses are put in place to erad­i­cate the stench.

Mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Theresa Mun­samy, who out­lined the mea­sures that were be­ing taken to re­duce the odour, said they would pass on the con­cerns and ul­ti­ma­tums to the rel­e­vant par­ties.

In nearby Phoenix, an elated Vimla Naidoo, 63, of Ring­wood Place, said she was grate­ful the prob­lem had been sorted out.

“It is such a re­lief to open our win­dows and doors with­out hav­ing to worry about that hor­ri­ble smell.”

Iqbal Hoosen, 62, who owns the BP garage in Wood­view, said: “The hor­ren­dous smell that we have had to en­dure for the past month is gone. I’m so happy.”

Phoenix coun­cil­lor Lyn­dal Singh said: “The sludge that caused the un­pleas­ant odour in the area has been cleaned out. I can as­sure the com­mu­nity that the waste wa­ter treat­ment plant in Phoenix will be closely mon­i­tored to en­sure that a rep­e­ti­tion does not oc­cur.”

The head of the city’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions unit, Tozi Mthethwa, and the head of the Phoenix Waste Wa­ter Treat­ment Works, Vi­nay Nu­liah, said odour con­trol sys­tems were be­ing in­stalled.

A con­cerned res­i­dent speaks out at a meet­ing in Ot­tawa.

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