Public Eye (South Africa)

Sewage stench misery


The awful stench of raw sewage is keeping some Pietermari­tzburg residents prisoners in their homes as they keep doors and windows shut, in an effort to keep the vile smell and germs away. Over the last six weeks Public Eye has received complaints from several residents across the city about blocked sewerage drains and overflowin­g sewage.

Residents living in Manor say the sewer at Rooibok Flats have been blocked for months resulting in waste from toilets backing up and overflowin­g from manholes and drains.

Pensioner, Gupal Rajah, and his wife have been living in the block of flats for 22 years but now are at their wits’ end, having to keep their doors and windows closed permanentl­y as one of the blocked drains is overflowin­g in the yard directly below their bedroom window.

“We don’t even sleep in the main bedroom because of the sewage,” said Rajah.

The couple have a five-year-old granddaugh­ter who loves sleepovers but these have become difficult recently due to the health concerns.

“The sewer spillage has attracted all kinds of insects to our home, including mosquitos, which has made it tough to sleep at night. At this point we fear for our health. The municipali­ty has tried to tackle the problem once but never completed the job, leaving us exposed to raw sewage outside our window,” said Rajah, complainin­g that he pays rent to the municipali­ty timeously every month but doesn’t get the service delivery he is paying for.

“It appears only a few people complain. If more residents reported the matter to the councillor and the municipali­ty, there would be pressure for them to act,” said Rajah.

It is not only in the Manor area that residents are complainin­g about the sewerage system. Residents from Neptune Road in Northdale are also battling the stench. Sewage has been overflowin­g there for over a week.

Faizel Rehman said that he has had no joy in trying to get the problem fixed, even though municipal workers had tried to sort out the problem.

“The sewage started overflowin­g last week Monday and residents reported the problem immediatel­y but help was not forthcomin­g. We were told in follow-up calls that our complaint was on a list of other complaints and would get dealt with. Eventually they sent out a team who tried to unblock the drain but the problem actually became worse. The day-shift team left and we then had the night-shift, who arrived on site to inspect the problem but that is all they did,” complained Rehman.

Genevieve Naidoo described the blocked drains as a “major health hazard” to affected residents.

“The smell is unbearable. Its not just dirty sewage water, you can actually see faeces floating on the water. We phoned the municipali­ty so many times and yet nothing is done. We are continuall­y told that our complaint is on a list. We are going to get sick with the smell and there are babies and elderly residents living here. Not enough is being done to assist the residents,” said Naidoo.

Ward 28 councillor, Renisha Singh, said she had reported the complaint promptly to the water and sanitation division and said that, as far as she was aware, the blocked drain causing the problem had been attended to.

Municipal spokespers­on, Ntobeko Mkhize, said the problems have been reported to the water and sanitation department and will be attended to promptly. She also confirmed an increase in blocked sewerage drains in the city, which she attributes to people disposing of foreign objects into toilets and waste water drains, which she says causes the blockages and overflows.

“We are appealing to the residents to report service delivery challenges to the municipali­ty through the call centre, as this will assist in speeding up the response and resolving these issues promptly. We are also appealing to the community to follow proper waste management practices to protect infrastruc­ture and the environmen­t,” added Mkhize.

 ?? ?? The sewage spill outside the bedroom window of two pensioners living in Manor Flats. Photos: Chanel George
The sewage spill outside the bedroom window of two pensioners living in Manor Flats. Photos: Chanel George

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