How city can clean Duzi

2008-10-28 00:00

Years of under-budgeting in the Msunduzi Municipality’s water and sanitation section and in the solid waste department have led to a heavily polluted river. The situation has also given rise to persistent complaints about the cleanliness of Pietermaritzburg.

All it will take to sort out the problem is for the city’s budget to be managed more efficiently.

This was the thrust of a recent address by Dave Still, chairman of the Duzi-Umgeni Conservancy Trust (Duct) to the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce (PCB) air quality and environmental forum.

He said sewage and solid waste pollution are major contributors to the current state of the Msunduzi River.

Still asked why real expenditure on solid waste management in the city is decreasing when the city’s economy and population are growing and when more grant money is available from the national government.

“How is it possible that we can’t find more money to put into solid waste?” he said.

He said the municipality’s sanitation section faces similar shortcomings. There are fewer sanitation inspectors today than there were 10 years ago and these inspectors have to service a far greater area. One of the most experienced inspectors left a short while ago and very little effort was made to retain him for his expertise.

A fleet of about 30 vehicles in the sanitation section are on average 15 years old. Two blockage-clearing trucks were purchased recently, but they have still not been modified. The section is in desperate need of new equipment and the longer the municipality waits, the more expensive it will become.

He added that staff morale in the section is very low. He said they have a thankless job climbing down manholes and sewers and keeping the city’s sanitation system functioning. A breakdown in the system not only leads to outraged residents, but is hazardous to public health.

Still said one way to solve the problem is for the city’s budget to be managed more efficiently.

“I’ve learnt that fantastic amounts of money are spent on overtime. There’s a need to find out what’s the problem and sort this out.

“Not all South African towns have rivers. Pietermaritzburg should look after this unique asset. All it requires is the political will,” said the Duct chairman.

Still quoted conservationist Dr Ian Player, who once said: “if the river running through your city is sick, then your city is sick”.

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