Dusi guts: Paddlers call for a clean river

2008-01-28 00:00

Cut the politics and clean our river.

This plea from Dusi organisers comes after a survey revealed that about half of all paddlers who risked the contaminated waters of the Duzi River in the recent Hansa Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon fell ill. Some were even hospitalised.

Organisers called for all sectors to work together to ensure that the problem is dealt with once and for all.

Dusi Marathon spokesman Ray de Vries yesterday expressed his anger at the high levels of contamination despite organisers’ efforts to ensure that the river was safe.

He said an independent survey of every fifth paddler revealed that 46% of contestants were struck down with “Dusi guts”.

He accused politicians of being too eager to have the race start in the city, with its accompanying revenue of R35 million to R49 million each year, and not heeding warnings of high contamination.

“This year we had a committee comprising Umgeni Water, Msunduzi Municipality and Dusi-uMngeni Conservation Trust that we had entrusted to ensure that the water was safe enough for the race to take place. When they gave us the go ahead we went with their judgment and sadly on the day of the race it turned out that the E. coli levels were far too high and so people got sick,” he said.

De Vries, who was himself on a drip for two days after the race, also expressed his concerns regarding overseas contestants ever taking part in the race again after he was told by some Australians they will not be back next year due their bad experience of falling ill.

He said the dirty river also affects communities living down the river who use its water.

De Vries added that Msunduzi Municipality needs to fix its sewerage problems as these add to the water being unclean.

“On our side, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure the river is cleaned, but we will need help from all relevant authorities,” he said.

Municipal manager Rob Haswell could not be reached for comment yesterday, but was quoted in the Sunday Tribune as denying De Vries’s allegations.

He called on affected parties to address the state of the river and said a workshop will be held to this end.

He said the Camps Drift canal will be drained.

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