Costly filth

2010-10-13 00:00

NO one who lives in the Msunduzi Municipality can be unaware of the filthy state of the city and the amount of illegal littering and dumping that takes place. Even if one does not venture out of doors it is brought home through every newspaper and freebie that is published in the city.

What people who do the littering and dumping do not seem to realise is how stupid they are. They are incapable of applying simple arithmetic and logical thought.

The municipality bills residents every month for a refuse removal service. Although it is problematic at times, it is still being paid for by the residents. The cheapest form of refuse removal is the door- to-door service and the removal of litter and refuse from receptacles designated for that purpose and placed strategically around the city.

Litter that is dropped in the streets and refuse that is dumped in gutters, down drains, on verges and in open areas, costs 10 times more per ton to remove than refuse placed in black plastic bags on designated removal days or placed in the designated receptacles. Are those stupid people listening?

As land is built on, so the ability of the land to soak up rainwater is reduced which leads to an increase in the amount of water run-off and in turn leads to flooding. The fact that, throughout the world, archaeologists have discovered intricate drainage systems where towns once stood shows that this has always been a major problem of urbanisation but that humans have always found a solution. Today these systems comprise gutters, drains and pipes which quickly lead rainwater from built-up areas into the rivers and streams surrounding a town. Pietermaritzburg is no different.

Where this city differs, however, is the extent to which the stupid people living in it abuse the system. They throw their litter into the drainage system and then cry when, in heavy storms, the drainage system is so blocked with refuse it cannot cope with the amount of runoff and so the rain water floods onto properties, causing damage, or onto roads, causing accidents. This creates huge expense and inconvenience and even unnecessary deaths, which could have been avoided if the stupid people had not littered or dumped in the first place.

What the stupid people also do not realise is that when a drainage system is blocked it is also likely to be damaged. This means that pipes have to be dug up and replaced, again at huge expense and great inconvenience to people using the roads or pavements where the damage has occurred. The money that is being used to do the repairs is money that could have been used to extend the drainage system to those areas that do not have one, but because of the stupid people this is not possible.

The rainwater that is fed into the rivers and streams via the drainage systems is the same water that is stored in dams, purified and returned to the towns in the form of potable water, that is water fit to drink. Purifying the water does not just consist of adding chemicals to kill any bacteria or germs. It also comprises a lengthy process to remove all the litter that accumulates in the water thanks largely to the stupid people. This is expensive and, were it not for the stupid people, our water would probably cost less. The money used for removing the litter comes from taxes — income tax, VAT and company taxes. Every­one, no matter how poor, pays for this, even the stupid people. This is money that, were it not for the stupid people, could be used for education, health, roads and beautifying the cities — all sorts of things that would improve the lives of everyone, but the stupid people can’t understand this.

What the stupid people also have not been able to work out is how much energy their actions use. To lug refuse to a stream in order to dump it when one has already paid to have it removed is totally illogical and a waste of human energy. To drive to a forest road to off-load refuse probably costs more in the long run than disposing of it at the landfill site. This, however, is too much for the stupid people’s brains to work out.

Much dumping is done at night or when the stupid people hope they will not be seen. This indicates that there is a certain amount of guilt . Guilt feelings lead to stress which in turn can affect a person’s health, yet the stupid people willingly bring such stress upon themselves. How illogical.

The filthy state of the city is caused by the littering and dumping done by stupid people and is remarked on by visitors. Does this mean that there are more stupid people living in the Msunduzi Municipality than elsewhere in the country?

• Judith M. Lawrence is a ward councillor for the Democratic Alliance on the Pietermaritzburg city council.

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