Howick residents complain of stench

2010-05-12 00:00

TEVIOT Place residents in Howick have lived with an unbearable stench caused by an overflowing sewerage manhole for months.

Resident Lesley Robinson said she had reported the matter to the uMgungundlovu District Municipality many times.

When the manhole blocked and overflowed some months ago, it backed up into the road and, apart from being a health hazard, Robinson said the stench became unbearable.

“My daughters used to have to wade ankle deep through raw effluent to get home after school. On April 21, a Mr Ravin Gunirajh from the municipality assured the residents of this complex that the problem had been sorted out.

“Since then, it has continued to overflow literally each and every day into the stormwater drain,” said Robinson, adding that the flow becomes worse in the mornings.

While the pipe has been unblocked on numerous occasions, municipal employees have not been able to prevent it from overflowing again — and sewage has been running into a stormwater drain all the way into the uMngeni River.

Residents blame the problem on the installation of a 100  mm pipe.

But uMgungundlovu acting manager for water and operations maintenance, Zakhe Gumede, said industrial plasticised hygiene products such as adult diapers were found in the manhole. He said the diameter of the pipe is not the problem, it is rather what people dump into it.

“Those people deny using diapers but they can’t explain how they got into the pipe. This pipe is solely dedicated to the complex and no other pipe is linked to it. I can assure you that even if we install a pipe with a bigger diameter the problem will still be there,” said Gumede.

Duzi-Umgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) Howick said it is aware of the problem.

DUCT spokesperson Pam Haynes said it has been a recurring problem over the past couple of months.

“Together with uMgungundlovu Municipality, we are trying to identify the nature of the blockage and we are mapping all the sewage pump stations and manholes in Howick, Howick West, Merrivale and Mpophomeni to set up a surveillance system that will hopefully ensure early detection,” said Haynes.

Resident and Democratic Alliance councillor Tim Lindsay-White said there were apparently no less than six water pipe bursts on Sunday, with about 15 since last Wednesday when the municipality responded to the callout.

He said the existing technical response teams have battled to cope.

“Water and sewage response teams need to increase their complement of skilled personnel, and there is a need for sufficient resources to be put at their disposal to attend to crumbling infrastructure that has not been upgraded for many years under the previous municipalities responsible.

“As they are battling with water bursts and sewage overflows, they are unable to attend to the upgrading of infrastructure, and relatively minor incidents don’t gain priority,” said Lindsay-White.

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