Residents fear the water

2015-07-22 10:36

A piece of land close to Century City station, which is owned by Transnet, has become a cause of concern for residents, especially parents, in Kensington. Over the years, they say, people have gotten robbed on that piece of land. And not so long ago bodies where dumped there. They say their calls to have something done to minimise criminal activities have gone unanswered.

Now the residents are scared to let their children go outside because the same piece of land has become a health hazard as it has stagnant water. Following heavy rains and a burst pipe the water didn’t subside. They are scared this is putting their kids in danger of drowning. To make matters worse, the piece of land has become a dumping site and no-one is cleaning it.

Residents say municipal workers told them they won’t clean the area as it is private land.  

For years, they have had to bear the dirt, the smell and the flies, but they can’t take it anymore because they fear it will make them and their children sick.

Resident Geraldine Morris (45) says the area is a problem for them in so many ways.  “This will make us sick. The flies, mosquitoes and the smell - it’s just too much for us. We have to keep doors and windows in our houses closed. We stay right in front of this mess and we have pleaded for help to get this place cleaned up or something be done but no-one really cares about us.  

“It’s so dangerous for our kids. We can’t always keep them within sight and at times they go play there. This water is bad for their skin. We are calling for something to be done before something terrible happens here. Our kids’ lives are in danger,” she says.

Another resident, who only identified herself as Elizabeth, says the City doesn’t care about them. “We don’t know how many times we have spoken about this area but they keep telling us they will come see what can be done about it. I don’t know what they are waiting for. This is a concern,” she says.

The residents had previously suggested that houses are built there but they were told the area is a wetland and not suitable for houses. They are now suggesting that the land be used as a garden or park.  

”We don’t even know for how long this land has been like this. It’s not good for our children. Something can be done with that piece of land instead of letting it waste like this. Our kids don’t have a safer place to play so having a park there would be very helpful,” adds Morris.

Transnet spokeperson Mboniso Sigonyela confirms that the piece of land belongs to Transnet and they are in contact with a service provider which cleans the site, including the clearing of bushes and removal of illegally-dumped rubble.
“Transnet has in the past erected sign boards and concrete sleepers to prevent access and further illegal dumping. The solution was effective for a while, but illegal dumping resumed after the concrete slippers were removed to allow construction vehicles to access the site during the construction of the Kensington station.
“An agreement was later reached with the community to install a boom gate to control access to the site in an effort to curb illegal dumping. Transnet honoured the request but the boom gate was vandalised and later stolen.
“Transnet is aware of the burst water pipe running through the site and has referred the matter to the City.
“We are in constant contact with various stakeholders, including the community, the City of Cape Town’s metro police, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and the local councillor in an effort to find a long-term solution,” he says.
Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for health, confirms complaints have been received relating to dumping and stagnant water on the site.
“The stagnant water was as a result of a pipe that had broken and the pipe was repaired. The last complaint received was in June and concerned dumping,” he says.
Mamkeli adds that it is the view of the municipality that Transnet is doing what it can about the dumping.
“The area is cleaned on a regular basis and large stones and barriers have been placed to try and prevent vehicular access to the area. Transnet conducts regular security patrols along the stretch of land as well. Residents have also been encouraged to take down vehicle registration numbers when they see dumping occur so that the City can prosecute dumpers. In November last year, City health attempted to employ local community members via the expanded public works programme to go door-to-door to educate the surrounding community of Acre Road and 18th Avenue on the health dangers of dumping and to encourage residents to report dumping. Unfortunately, four consecutive workers resigned as they indicated that it was too dangerous for them to perform this type of community work in this area,” he says.
Members of the community who spot dumping are encouraged to report it:
. Call 021 400 6157 during office hours (with offenders’ or their vehicle details only).
. Email solidwaste.bylaw@capetown.­gov.­za (with offenders’ or their vehicle details only).
. If you don’t have those details call 0860 103 089 or email wastewise@capetown.gov.za.

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