Cesspool may soon be gone

2012-10-22 00:00

THEY call the place Happy Valley — a bitter irony considering that the mood among its inhabitants is anything but happy.

As if living in the squalor of corrugated iron shacks was not enough, a 500 metre-long cesspool of blocked sewage runs through this informal settlement, which hundreds of people call home.

However, there is hope that finally the situation will be permanently changed.

Local councillor Mary Schalkwyk said the municipality has paid R5 000 to Transnet for authorisation to dig a trench under the rail line. “This has been my priority and it is in its final stages, as work should begin in November,” she said.

For years, parents have had to carefully monitor their children’s movements lest they come into contact with the raw sewage, or even worse, fall into the open sewer pit, which resembles a muddy swimming pool.

When The Witness first reported on the situation of Happy Valley more than a year ago, and again in June this year, municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma promised a speedy resolution.

He said the municipality would start clearing the sewage in August, and were awaiting authorisation from Transnet to dig a trench under the railway line to open the blocked sewer.

Thembelihle Zondi, a long-time resident of Happy Valley, said: “For years we have been reporting this problem to the municipality, but all we ever get is promises”.

Her concerns were echoed by neighbour Ngcebo Ngcobo.

“A lot of people in our area suffer from respiratory diseases because of the poor living conditions which we are exposed to. The smell is terrible and we have to keep our windows closed, because the area is also infested with mosquitoes,” she said.

Residents feel they are being discriminated against by the municipality because they live in an informal settlement.

Siphamandla Xaba, also a resident of Happy Valley, said the area that is now covered by the sewage pool used to be a community garden.

“People used to plant vegetables which they could then eat, but all that was destroyed by the raw sewage.

“If this happened in a rich suburb, they would have sorted it out ages ago,” said Xaba.

Acting Msunduzi municipality spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said: “We have recently obtained approval from Transnet to do pipe-jacking. The designs are completed.

“As soon as we get contract employees, work will commence.”

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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