Hope for Mafefe residents as asbestos road is replaced

2018-05-03 13:00
 (File, Beeld)

(File, Beeld)

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In the hope that it would bring an end to the amount of deadly asbestos dust on their streets, residents of former asbestos-mining community Mafefe, have welcomed the construction of part of a road in the town at the cost of R43m.

Over the past two decades, locals have complained to the government about the harmful effects of asbestos dust, used to construct roads and other infrastructure.

Asbestos-mining company Cape PLC and its partners extracted asbestos mineral in the area between 1898 until the late 1960s.

The mine's activities are said to have negatively affected 90% of the impoverished community, which has a 30 000-strong population.

According to anti-asbestos campaign manager Zakes Matime, the construction of the road, through the government's asbestos rehabilitation programme, covers eight kilometres of Mafefe's main street.

"The construction does not cover all the streets, but the main polluted street in Mafefe is being addressed," said Matime

"The people who are using the road will be walking for the first time in many years on asbestos-free road," he added.

Four years ago, the government demolished some schools in the area that were constructed with the use of asbestos material.

However, Matime says more needs to be done. He says there are still houses and a public building which need to be demolished to remove asbestos left behind in the village.

The environmental affairs department said it has developed a national secondary asbestos remediation plan that identified Limpopo and the Northern Cape as provinces that require intervention.

The two provinces have significantly high levels of secondary asbestos contamination.

"Mafefe in Limpopo province and Gamopedi in the Northern Cape were prioritised for remediation work in the 2017-18 financial year and will continue in the 2018-19 [financial year]," departmental spokesperson Albi Modise said.

"Other villages in these provinces will be focused on as and when funding becomes available, with priority given to schools and other buildings, playgrounds and roads to contain and prevent any spread of contamination."

Modise said the challenge was to obtain funding for the completion of remediation in affected areas.

This means the project has to be carried out in phases when funding becomes available.

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