While the municipality appears to be making efforts to clean up the CBD, surrounding suburbs are still clogged with rubbish and illegal dumping.In the run-up to and after the festive season residents were forced to deal with heaps of rotting rubbish and uncollected bin bags as municipal staff and services ground to a halt for various reasons, including the lack of staff and resources.Many residents have complained that their refuse is not being collected on the day they are told to put it out, meaning that dogs, hadedas and monkeys are ripping their bags apart, strewing litter on verges.In a drive around the CBD on Thursday, the city centre was clean with minimal visible litter.In Boom Street, cleaners from the Sakhunotho Cleaning Company, contracted by the municipality, clean the streets from the City Hall towards West Street and Pine Street.The cleaners said while they did their best to clean the streets, it felt like a losing battle.“We are at this lower section of Boom Street every alternate day. And it is the same. No matter how much dirt we collect, when we come back, it’s the same.“The residents here just don’t care. They don’t buy the black bin bags and just throw their dirt, including soiled nappies, food, rotting meat and packets of faeces onto the street,” said one of the cleaners.Nkululeko Mdluli, Zandile Nhlangulela and Anthony Mncwabe from Sakhunotho cleaning company, that is contracted by the municipality, tackle the filth in Boom Street.At the Olympic Pool in Northdale, volunteers and residents embarked on their own clean-up campaign of litter and rubbish dumped by nearby businesses against the pool’s boundary walls.“We’ve been asking the municipality to assist us for months to get rid of the rubbish to no avail. We’ve visited the businesses and implored them to stop using the area as a dumping ground but they continue.“The grass is not cut and patrons from the nearby pub use that area as their public toilet. Prostitutes also use that area and we have to constantly get rid of the used condoms thrown there,” said one volunteer.Selina Mohapi’s house in Gandhi Road, Northdale, is next to a vacant municipal plot that has become a dump site and haven for vagrants and criminals.Despite engaging with the municipality since October last year to clear the rubbish and cut the grass, nothing has been done.Earlier this month, when she was away on holiday, criminals who use the plot as a hide-out and thoroughfare broke her boundary wall and ransacked her house.“I’m at my wit’s end. The stench from the rotting rubbish is unbearable. People who live in this neighbourhood and on this very street use this municipal plot as a dumping ground. There are flies all over as they also dump dead animals here,” said Mohapi.“The municipality must take responsibility and clear their plot — it is a hazard to my safety and health, and an ideal hiding ground for criminals. The grass and weeds are so high that even my neighbour couldn’t see them breaking the wall.”Mohapi said she feared that it would take a serious incident before any action was taken.“Young children use this road to and from school. It would be too easy for the criminals to attack the children and even throw their bodies in here and I wouldn’t know the difference between the smell of a decomposing human body and animal. I hope it doesn’t take a murder for the municipality to spring into action,” she said.Msunduzi spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said the municipality acknowledges that there were a number of challenges in waste collection.Those included, she said, were the ageing municipal fleet that has been prone to frequent breakdowns, and the shortage of other resources.“The municipality understands the importance of efficient and reliable management of waste and a long-term sustainable plan has been developed to address the challenges that the municipality is faced with, including the management of the landfill site, illegal dumping, refuse removal and the resources required thereto.“A programme was recently started where municipal staff are clearing waste and illegal dumps in and around the city. The municipality is committed to ensuring regular and uninterrupted refuse removal, availability of more fleet as well as regular education and awareness campaigns targeting the members of the public and businesses on waste management,” Ngcobo said.She added that the municipality extended an apology to the residents for the inconvenience caused and appealed for patience while they attempted to address the problems.Ngcobo reiterated the need for residents to pay for services.“Non-payment has a great impact on service delivery as the revenue collected is the same money that is invested back into service delivery,” she said.Litter heroes make a differenceOn Victoria Road, the Hall’s Litter Heroes, a joint initiative by Hall’s Retail and Ward 27, was launched in November last year, when the litter in the area reached “catastrophic” proportions, with the objective of cleaning the streets of litter and rubbish, including removing debris clogging up the storm water drains.Hall’s Litter Heroes cleaners are committed to making a difference and keeping Victoria Road and Ward 27 clean. Pictured are (from left) Chanelle David, Masikane Sindisiwe, Mandisa Gwala and Nqobile Mbele.Hall’s financial manager Coral Gold said Litter Heroes were recruited to tackle the litter problem by cleaning the streets of Ward 27 every week and branded and clearly marked, weighted rubbish bins were placed in Victoria road, encouraging the public to join the initiative.“Our aim is to provide this service to all other streets in the CBD, to clean up our city and to provide employment at the same time,” said Gold.Daniel Engelbrecht of Litter Heroes said there was a positive response to the initiative and many businesses had joined in and were making an effort to keep the streets clean. “It is disheartening though that people don’t take responsibility for their litter and ... dispose of their dirt anywhere. It starts with all of us being responsible,” said Engelbrecht.