Cosmo City’s pol­lu­tion woes need fix­ing – now

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - Ab ini­tio Ad­vo­cate Mahlodi Sam Muofhe is a hu­man and fun­da­men­tal rights ac­tivist.

I WON­DER whether res­i­dents of Ex­ten­sion 6 Cosmo City Town­ship, nestling be­tween the North­gate Shop­ping Cen­tre in Northrid­ing and the Lanse­ria In­ter­na­tional Air­port, north-west of Jo­han­nes­burg, en­joyed their fes­tive sea­son.

The sewage drainage sys­tems in Ex­ten­sion 6 Cosmo City ceased to func­tion by the mid­dle of last year, or maybe ear­lier. My ob­ser­va­tion was in mid-2018 when I drove past a burst sewage man­hole. In­tu­itively, I thought the au­thor­i­ties would at­tend to the prob­lem swiftly. How wrong I was!

The road in­fra­struc­ture where it burst (the cor­ner of Repub­lic and Cen­tral Africa roads, Ex­ten­sion 6 Cosmo City) has col­lapsed to ir­repara­ble pro­por­tions. The stench is un­bear­able from afar. Res­i­dents of Cosmo City live with fae­ces gap­ing from this man­hole.

I went to Cosmo City the day after New Year’s Day. I drove on South Africa Road, off Mal­i­bongwe Drive, obliv­i­ous of the fact that this road is no longer drive­able be­cause the bet­ter part of it has col­lapsed into a river of hu­man waste.

I had to look for an al­ter­na­tive route. For­tu­nately, it was day­time.

If it had been late in the evening, bear­ing in mind the road still isn’t cor­doned off, I would prob­a­bly have driven on this dam­aged road full of hu­man ex­cre­ment.

In my view, this is to­tally un­ac­cept­able and un­con­sti­tu­tional. By all stan­dards, the Cosmo City “mul­ti­class” town­ship is rel­a­tively new. The town­ship was a bea­con of health when it was es­tab­lished in March 2005. Res­i­dents of Cosmo City, prior to be­ing al­lo­cated RDP houses, lived in squalid in­for­mal set­tle­ments in and around Mul­der­s­drift. What a re­lief it was for them when their right to ad­e­quate hous­ing was ful­filled in 2005.

The town­ship as a whole is show­ing signs of hav­ing been un­der-de­signed (from the be­gin­ning). It is sys­tem­at­i­cally de­gen­er­at­ing with wa­ter seep­ages spring­ing up ev­ery­where.

The sit­u­a­tion is dire, es­pe­cially for our vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren who walk daily in the mid­dle of ex­cre­ment to and from school. Their right to ad­e­quate health is flouted fla­grantly.

How do these kids and their par­ents en­joy their rights un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion in a de­graded, pol­luted en­vi­ron­ment with a col­lapsed in­fra­struc­ture? It’s a mys­tery that these chil­dren man­age to fo­cus at school un­der these in­hab­it­able con­di­tions.

If the sewage prob­lem in Ex­ten­sion 6 Cosmo City isn’t ar­rested soon, we will wit­ness the out­break of the deadly cholera dis­ease.

We pride our­selves in hav­ing a so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­men­tal Con­sti­tu­tion. In­deed, it is true. The world holds the same view about our es­teemed Con­sti­tu­tion. Our Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan Vi­sion 2030 vi­su­alises all South Africans, ir­re­spec­tive of skin colour skin, creed and gen­der, liv­ing in a South Africa in con­di­tions which al­low the flow­er­ing of our youth. We thus must en­sure that we main­tain our in­fra­struc­ture and the en­vi­ron­ment.

It will be a gross over­sight on our part if the ex­cuse for our fail­ure to main­tain this in­fra­struc­ture is that Cosmo City is over-pop­u­lated. We ought to have seen this pos­si­bil­ity when the town­ship was es­tab­lished in 2005.

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