Double disaster piping

2017-02-08 06:01
Beauty and the beast - some of he abandoned ‘pipe-dream’ pipes and the alien Pompom weed along the mythical Craigieburn pipeline.

Beauty and the beast - some of he abandoned ‘pipe-dream’ pipes and the alien Pompom weed along the mythical Craigieburn pipeline.

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JUST under R300 000 000-plus is the figure being bandied about as the wasted cost of the fairytale Craigieburn pipeline, which according to Umzinyathi and Umvoti officials should have, by now, been pumping water by the kilolitre to all Umvoti residents.

This passing pipe dream was produced in 2008 with great flourish to end for ever the problematic supply to Greytown and district with particular reference to the future development of housing and industry.

At that stage the cost for the project was R27 million, however, this is not a fairy tale where "all live happily ever after", but more a horror story of official bungling, crooked contractors, no accountability, and worst of all, not a single drop of water.

More than two years ago, as the drought tightened its grip, work began again to speed up this legendary pipe dream and the R27 million was extended to a total of R500 000 000 by the powers that be.

In what became similar to a magician's disappearing act, contractors worked erratically on the project - appearing and disappearing with startling rapidity. The latest report is that a new contractor has started work again, but on a limited basis.

The many months of nothing have taken its toll. Take a drive along the multi-potholed Rietvlei-Greytown road and see the blatant evidence.

Millions of rands worth of abandoned, and now useless pipes, are stockpiled up all over - the vital sealed ends of these pipes have been broken and there is an interesting­ range of rubbish accumulating instead in these open ends.

There is all sorts of environmental disasters building up. As can be seen in the photograph this huge open trench has developed close to the new Quarme Primary School.

There are no warning signs to alert the public of this crumbling eroding environmental devastation.

In the second photograph the abandoned pipes are glamourised by sprays of pretty pink flowers, but these are also an environmental disaster.

From December to March the pretty, but seriously invasive, Pompom weed turns thousands of hectares of South Africa's wetlands and veld from green to pink - and increasing infestations of this weed can be seen within Greytown and throughout the Umvoti district. Colourful it may be, but at a massive cost to the natural vegetation and efficiency of wetlands.

The Pompom weed, which originates from South America, is a declared Category 1 invader species of plants which means that it is illegal to plant or allow the growth. propagate or sell these plants.

It initially establishes in areas where the soil has been disturbed and natural vegetation removed, such as road sides or where excavation has taken place. From there it rapidly invades large areas via seed dispersal.

Because of its ability to spread rapidly, destroy of natural ecosystems and its ability to thrive in a wide variety of adverse conditions like drought and fire it has become a very serious environmental threat to water sources and agriculture.

Land owners are legally compelled to eradicate and control it by appropriate methods.
Uncontrolled infestations must be reported to he National Department of Agriculture: Land Use and Management KZN on 033 345 3557.

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