Clean-up just the beginning

2016-09-16 09:13
Velotech staff, Patrick Khanyile, clears up mountains of rubbish around Nottingham RoadÕs informal settlement next to Transnet railway tracks.

Velotech staff, Patrick Khanyile, clears up mountains of rubbish around Nottingham RoadÕs informal settlement next to Transnet railway tracks. (Ian Carbutt)

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Nottingham Road’s informal settlement, deemed a “health hazard” by locals, has had an outer face-lift. However, the living conditions of the settlers remain a “huge” concern.

The informal settlement in the heart of Nottingham Road village sprang up in 2005 and has expanded exponentially since then.

With an estimated 300 people living in and around the small confines of Transnet’s old Railway Reserve, broken glass, used condoms and old food had completely blanketed the bank next to the R103.

Dirty nappies and piles of human excrement in plastic packets hung from the trees and the stench from the raw waste and rotting food on the banks, a few hundred metres away from a local supermarket, was almost unbearable.

Two weeks ago, the uMngeni Municipality commissioned KwaZulu-Natal waste company Velotech to clear the banks, the ground and railway line of all the waste that had piled up.

Velotech director Roy Kruger said it had been two weeks of hard work, during which the banks of the R103 had been cleared. Staff were now in the process of removing rubbish from the tracks and the grounds opposite.

“The clean-up has gone well. There is a lot to clean up and we are cleaning as much as we can, but it is a start,” Kruger said.

Nottingham Road Land Owners Association chairperson Clive Foss said in a Witness article on August 14 that the settlement was completely under-serviced and had become a “huge health and safety concern”.

on Thursday, Foss said although the clean-up of the exterior of the settlement had been “excellent”, solutions surrounding the living conditions of those inside the settlement still had to be found.

“There are so many affected parties surrounding the settlement, and there has to be a joint operation to find something that will resolve this.”

Nottingham Road Refreshed (NRR) founder Natasha Strong said it was “great” that the outside had been cleaned, but it was only “a short-term solution”.

“We have to tackle these terrible living conditions somehow. There has to be some solution to deal with the human waste lying in and around the settlement.

“How do we give these settlers reasonable living conditions?” she said.

Meshach Ndlovu, a community worker from a local church who is often in the settlement, said the settlement had no toilets, so people were using plastic bags as toilets and throwing them out.

“People are getting sick, and people are starving. Children play around this waste and elderly people sit near it. It is terrible.”

Human Settlements Department spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said one of the challenges uMngeni had faced was finding suitable land to address the issue of informal settlements.

“The department has a dedicated Informal Settlement Upgrade Programme with funds granted by the national department.

“There are various informal settlements within uMngeni and the department can only be guided by the municipality on which settlement is the priority.

“The department relies on the municipality as to the urgency in attending to the challenges of informal settlements,” said Baloyi.

uMngeni municipal spokesperson Thando Mgaga said the outer perimeter of the settlement was cleared for tourism-related reasons and for the general regular upkeep of the area.

He said Velotech’s contract extended to clearing the human waste inside the settlement, which was “expected to commence shortly”.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  clean-up

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