Tyre in manhole causes sewage to flow down Daphne Road

2014-03-31 00:00

Rivers of Sewage

This is a thumbs down to both the municipality and city residents.

The municipality gets a nay for taking two weeks to fix a blocked sewerage outlet that caused a river of sewage to flow down Daphne Road in Northdale (see picture). Residents get a thumbs down for abusing the infrastructure and throwing all sorts of rubbish into the system resulting in the blockages. Witness Warriors learnt that the reason why the problem took such a long time to fix was because someone put a 12-inch tyre down a sewer manhole.

Amod Sheik sent the photograph below and explained in graphic detail what the residents endured. Sheik said that the stench was unbearable with raw sewage spilling from a pipe that ran parallel to his house. He said people were forced to walk through the sludge. “This is a road used daily by adults and scholars and it is the only way for everyone to go to the shop and even to get to the taxi to go to work or school.”

He added that the pressure that built beneath the blockage eventually managed to pop up the heavy steel lid plating of the manhole cover, which resulted in a steady flow of sewage through the day and the night.

They were increasingly afraid that it could reach their homes. The situation was exacerbated by the humidity and heat during that period and homes were being invaded by flies.

Sheik said what was disappointing was that while they were suffering and had to endure the stench, there was no sense of urgency among the municipal workers who went out to view the problem. “We did see workers but they would arrive and spend about 15 minutes there and then disappear without even giving the residents a full report on the blockage.”

Witness Warriors pursued this matter and found the reason the problem took so long to fix was that someone had put a 12 inch tyre inside the sewer manhole. The municipality tried to use rods and then a high-pressure jet to remove the tyre, but this did not work.

In an article in The Witness on Thursday, journalist Niyanta Singh wrote about the city’s neglected sewer system that resulted in dangerously high E.coli levels in the city’s river system.

Environmentalists said it is just not the city’s failing infrastructure that is causing the problem but abuse of the system.

The scientists decried the fact that all manner of junk is thrown down the sewerage system blocking filters and outlets. Being environmentally conscious also means taking care of the sewerage system.


insurance claims

Witness Warriors has been hammering at the slow payment of refunds, but the finance section appears to be the model of efficiency when compared to the insurance claims department. More than three years down the line claims have not been resolved. What has been most frustrating is that residents hear absolutely nothing from the insurance section, so don’t even know if their claims have been successful or not and whether it is worth pursing the matter.

In one case, three years down the line the claimant still has not heard from the municipality. We are re-visiting this issue now that we have the efficient Madeleine Plaatjies-Jackson and Nqobile Madonda involved.

These cases will be sent to them to pursue. In November last year we mentioned Stephanie Barnard’s then two-, now almost three-year battle to get her claim for damaged electrical appliances sorted out.

She is yet to hear from the municipality.

Eight residents of Salvia Place, Northdale, whose appliances including fridges were damaged as a result of a fault in a nearby sub-station have also had no word. Resident Shane Naidoo said, “Still no joy from them; we don’t know what to say any more.”

Residents in Waterford Park in Prestbury, whose stoves, fridges, washing machines, television sets, kettles and toasters blew up as a result of power fluctuations, involved DA Member of Parliament Greg Krumbock in their battle. They got as far as having two round table meetings and have received a response from the municipality to the effect that their legal adviser had approved the claim on the basis of the recommendations of the assessor engaged by the municipality.

However, the residents are seeking clarity on the assessor’s report, which is not clear in some aspects and their queries on the calculations. The insurance claims section needs a shake up and here’s hoping that Plaatjies-Jackson will work her magic.

Power theft despair

A despairing resident from Darjeeling Road in Northdale writes about their daily tribulations with power theft.

The resident, who did not want to be identified, wrote, “Our homes (which we are working so darn hard for, and are diligently paying our very own electricity bills) are facing the brunt of power outages that can go on for days on end. The thieves just do not care and blatantly show you that they are not afraid. On Tuesday evening as early at 3.30 am under a bright street lamp in Darjeeling Drive in Darjeeling Heights, they worked at digging almost a one metre trench and stole the cables. It was almost like a fountain firework display outside the premises, and this happens often throughout the street. We screamed at them from a window, in an attempt to stop them, and they swore at us and threatened to shoot us.”

The resident thanked the electricity department for responding quickly and trying their best to fix the problem. However, the damage was so severe that power could only be restored a day and a half later.

No more broken pavements

Last week the municipality gave an undertaking that they would fix the section of pavement that was dug up in downtown Church Street, where several elderly people had fallen.

Msunduzi spokesperson Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies happily reported that work on the site had commenced and was almost complete.

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