No planning

2011-10-06 00:00

HOW is it that the new Spring Grove Dam in Nottingham Road requires an environmental impact assessment (EIA), but when we build Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses in large quantities, they seem to be exempt from an EIA? This seems to be the case with 500 additional houses planned for Bruntville township, on the outskirts of Mooi River.

Due to the lack of an EIA, I am unable to make public comments in this regard, so I now voice my opinion via the media. I ask that the Mpofana Municipality town manager urgently address the issues set out below.

 

Sewerage

The initial sewerage line serving Bruntville was designed to carry sewage for around 1 000 houses. Over the past years, more and more houses have been built, simply feeding into this line without upgrading its size. There are now well over 4 000 houses, and the line cannot cope. It is often blocked and overflowing. In addition, there is no backup power supply, so when the power goes off (as it does quite often) the sewage simply flows into the Mooi River. Imagine the chaos if we connect 500 additional houses to this over-full sewerage line. I guess it will all simply flow into the Mooi River.

In past years, the Mooi River was a wonderful river for the community to use for recreation. Weston Agricultural College and Treverton College would often send boys canoeing down white waters. Children would swim and catch fish, and tubing was a common activity. Many people will fondly remember the floatarama, a major fundraising event for the Round Table, for which people spent days building elaborate water crafts. This is all gone now, and E. coli levels have reached massive levels outside the caravan park, chasing away all recreational activity. It is cleaner to swim in a toilet than brave the Mooi River. Any more houses will increase the sewage problem, and this will cause a serious cholera threat to the many communities that live along this river.

 

Unemployment and crime

Mooi River does not actually have a problem with housing. There are no areas of informal settlement, and homeless people are hard to find. So why build more houses? We are simply importing homeless people from other areas into a town that has no jobs. Mooi River has only one small factory producing textiles, and with the number of textile factories closing down in South Africa, even this is not very safe. Jobless people turn to crime, which is spiralling out of control in Mooi River. In some parts of town, cable theft is so common that Telkom now refuses to replace cables that have been stolen for the fifth time. These areas will never have land lines again. How can Weston Agricultural College run a large boarding school with no phones or fax? My mind boggles.

The criminals are holding the town to ransom and no one seems to care. In Mooi River there are some streets where virtually every house has had a burglary or attempted burglary in the past year. Having dogs is no longer a problem for thieves who throw poisoned meat over the fence to kill these animals before breaking into houses in broad daylight. Who wants to live in a town filled with crime? House prices will plummet as people avoid Mooi River due to endless crime, unsafe neighbourhoods, and no phone lines. What effect will 500 new houses have on crime when we import hundreds of jobless people into our town?

 

Schooling

Mooi River is currently experiencing a huge schooling crisis. Due to a severe lack of schools, it has been estimated that over 300 pupils bus out of Mooi River every morning to attend schools in Estcourt, Nottingham Road and Howick. Some even travel daily to Pietermaritzburg. With thousands of people killed on our roads annually, this places many children at risk. In addition, parents fork out massive amounts of money to pay for transport. How many children will live in these 500 new houses? I am guessing two per house. Where will they go to school? How will their parents pay for transport if they are jobless? The latest buzz words are global warming and climate change, so what kind of carbon footprint are we creating with so much unnecessary travelling?

I guess the decision to build more houses was entirely political with no consultation with town planners. This is a common thing in Mooi River, just like the solar geysers handed out weeks before elections, which were speedily erected with no thought of orientation to the sun. People laugh when they drive past a south-facing geyser. It shows such ignorance by those who planned this. I urge the town council to stop this madness and start making decisions that will benefit our town and not cause total chaos due to lack of planning.

 

• Chris Nowlan is a teacher.

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