Msunduzi’s long-term plan to tackle illegal dumping

2014-01-20 00:00

THERE is finally a long-term plan to tackle the scourge of illegal dumping in Pietermaritzburg, after years of complaints.

However, residents will have to wait a while longer for action as the waste management section needs the resources to implement the plan.

The city’s rubbish-strewn streets have long been an embarrassment to city residents. James Arnot of Claridge once reported that a bus with tourists from Denmark had stopped so that the visitors could take photographs of the rubbish on the Otto’s Bluff road. This is one illegal dump site that has been repeatedly cleaned by the municipality only to get dumped on again. Claridge residents grew tired of complaining to no effect. In December, city businessman Vishad Deeplall could not take the mess any longer and cleaned up the area himself.

Lee-Ann Todd, who lives on the Wartburg road, has repeatedly highlighted the fact that Msunduzi was losing the battle against illegal dumping. The staff and pupils of Northbury Park in Northdale cringed with embarrassment as more than 20 visitors from the United States had to navigate their way past an unsightly illegal dump site to get to their school.

A report to the Executive Committee (Exco) on Thursday revealed why illegal dumping has become a huge problem to the city. The reasons included:

• The shrinking allocation of funds over the years to the waste management unit to tackle illegal dumping: this has resulted in the mushrooming of new sites.

• The non-enforcement of by-laws: Richard Rajah from waste management, who wrote the report, said the under-resourced unit did not have the staff to investigate and prosecute illegal dumpers, and as a result those who are caught get off lightly. Rajah said residents know this and therefore take advantage. He also felt that the by-laws needed to be re-written.

Rajah noted that the city did not have adequate provision to deal with bulky items such as old fridges, stoves, broken furniture and building rubble. He said the high cost of transport to the dump site resulted in residents opting to dump these illegally.

The long-term plan proposes an integrated approach where waste management works with the municipality’s environmental health, parks and traffic and security units to tackle the problem. It proposes:

• The setting up of a dedicated illegal dumping unit with at least 10 staff;

• A revision of the by-laws;

• Funding for more equipment;

• Prioritisation of recycling facilties;

• Legalising some illegal dump sites by fencing, providing a skip and site attendant;

• The establishment of playlots and parks;

• The establishment of community gardens; and

• Greater effort on education and awareness on attitudes and behavioural change on keeping the city clean.

The community services portfolio committee has called for a more detailed implementation plan on how this long-term solution can be put into effect. It has also recommended that the deputy municipal manager for community services visit Johannesburg to investigate the extreme parks project. This project involves reclaiming neglected vacant land in suburbs that have become dump sites.

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