Mayor joins big Soweto clean-up project

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ILANIT CHERNICK

THE CITY of Joburg cel­e­brated World En­vi­ron­ment Day yes­ter­day with a clean-up cam­paign in Soweto.

The clean-up, which was part of the #WasteS­top­sWithMe cam­paign, was in col­lab­o­ra­tion with city waste col­lec­tion agency Pik­itup, the Cana­dian High Com­mis­sion to South Africa and Miss Earth SA.

The clean-up took place at Mshen­guville park, where Joburg mayor Her­man Mashaba, Mem­ber of the May­oral Com­mit­tee for En­vi­ron­ment and In­fra­struc­ture Ser­vices Nico de Jager, Cana­dian high com­mis­sioner to South Africa San­dra McCardell, and cli­mate and hu­man rights ac­tivist Catherine Con­stan­tinides joined forces with res­i­dents and Pik­itup per­son­nel to clean up the park.

The park is a known hotspot for il­le­gal dump­ing and lit­ter­ing.

“As the City of Joburg, we have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to look after the en­vi­ron­ment. We need clean­li­ness but we also need to en­sure we are look­ing at the big pic­ture,” Mashaba said.

He noted that il­le­gal dump­ing costs the city R80 mil­lion a year. “To look after our re­sources, we need to have a clean en­vi­ron­ment. Let us take our en­vi­ron­ment se­ri­ously and stop il­le­gal dump­ing,” he said.

Mashaba said R2.4 bil­lion had been al­lo­cated to Pik­itup to clear il­le­gal dump­ing and meet waste col­lec­tion needs dur­ing the 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year, while

A dirty en­vi­ron­ment is an un­safe one

R150m had been set aside for the clean­ing of in­for­mal set­tle­ments dur­ing 2017/18 and R50m had been al­lo­cated for Pik­itup to con­tinue its third clean­ing shift within the in­ner city.

“It is also good news to com­mu­ni­cate that 264 889 house­holds across the city are tak­ing part in the city’s Sep­a­ra­tion-At-Source project, led by Pik­itup,” he added.

Con­stan­tinides, who is also the na­tional direc­tor of Miss Earth SA, ex­plained that the #WasteS­top­sWithMe cam­paign strives to en­cour­age peo­ple across South Africa to un­der­stand the role they play in con­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

“A dirty en­vi­ron­ment is an un­safe en­vi­ron­ment. Ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about the en­vi­ron­ment starts at a grass­roots level.

“This is our 100th clean-up since June 1 and it’s great to see the com­mu­nity com­ing out and be­ing so driven. We have to take own­er­ship of our cities, spa­ces and parks. It’s small steps of ac­tion like re­cy­cling that can make a big dif­fer­ence,” Con­stan­tinides said.

Asked what small thing house­holds could do to make a dif­fer­ence to the en­vi­ron­ment, she em­pha­sised that stop­ping us­ing straws, which land up in the oceans and dam­age their ecosys­tems, would make a big dif­fer­ence.

As the day pro­gressed, bags, gloves and tools were handed out and the large crew set to work clean­ing dumped items like card­board, wood and plas­tic bot­tles.

Lo­cal res­i­dents Ge­orge Mathe and Mabo Se­hube, who also took part in the clean-up, said they were re­lieved this was tak­ing place so close to their homes.

“We live right here and our chil­dren, nieces, neph­ews and grand­chil­dren come here to play, and it’s al­ways so dirty. How can they play in such an en­vi­ron­ment?” Mathe asked.

“In the summer all the dump­ing and mess here brings flies to my home, which is right there,” she said, point­ing to­wards a home across the road.

“It makes it an un­clean and un­safe en­vi­ron­ment for all of us, and we hope this will carry on and en­cour­age the com­mu­nity to get in­volved in keep­ing the area clean as well,” she said.

Mathe added it was great to see so many peo­ple and res­i­dents com­ing to­gether to clean up the park and make it bet­ter for ev­ery­one.

By the end of the day, bags upon bags of rub­bish and lit­ter lay in a pile while the group look­ing on proudly at their hard work.

HANDS ON: Ac­tivist Catherine Con­stan­tinides and Joburg mayor Her­man Mashaba help to clean up Mshen­guville park in Soweto. The event was part of the #WasteS­top­sWithMe cam­paign on World En­vi­ron­ment Day for the Miss Earth South Africa lead­er­ship pro­gramme, in part­ner­ship with the City of Joburg and Pik­itup. PIC­TURE: MATTHEWS BALOYI

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