Residents suffer the stench of unfulfilled promises

2012-06-08 00:00

A YEAR after The Witness reported on the unhygienic conditions in which residents of Happy Valley in Woodlands were living, locals are still waiting for a blocked sewer line to be re-routed as promised.

The overflow from the line has created a cesspool of sewage, which covers about 500 metres along a railway line where most families live.

The families say they have been forced to stop their children from playing in the unhygienic environment outside.

Last year, the municipality promised, through Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma, that it had prioritised redirecting the sewer line, so that where blockages occurred it took place away from the residential area.

However, this is still to take place.

Sphamandla Xaba, a resident, said they were spending money they could ill afford on insect repellents to kill mosquitos breeding in the sewage and had to keep their doors closed at all times because of the stench.

He said the area covered by the pool used to be a community garden, which provided them with food, but now it had become a curse for the community.

Xaba said their children were at risk of drowning in the pool and that many locals were diagnosed with tuberculosis, which he attributed to the unhealthy environment they lived in.

Vincent Myeni, another concerned resident, said mosquitos were rife even in winter season because of the filthy sewage. “We feel that Msunduzi is discriminating against us because we live in an informal settlement. If this happened in a rich suburb, they would have sorted this out ages ago,” he said.

Ward 32 councillor Mary Schalkwyk said: “We are very concerned about the unhealthy condition that our community has been living in for years. The municipality has allocated funding for this project.

“However, there are some delays as we are still waiting to get permission from Transnet for the laying of pipes under the railway line.”

She said this had been included in the Integrated Development Plan for the 2012/13 financial year.

Zuma said an amount of R10 million had been allocated in the new budget for the rehabilitation of sanitation infrastructure.

“Happy Valley is one of the areas that will benefit from that allocation. The designs are 80% complete, and we are currently negotiating with Transnet to allow us to work under their bridge, which is unavoidable in undertaking the Happy Valley project,” he said.

Zuma anticipated the project to commence in October.

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