WATCH: ‘Paddling in a sewer’

2018-11-08 15:28
Local paddler Gavin Dundas-Starr crouches next to the overflowing manhole that has been leaking thousands of litres of sewage into the Duzi at Camps Drift for the past three months.

Local paddler Gavin Dundas-Starr crouches next to the overflowing manhole that has been leaking thousands of litres of sewage into the Duzi at Camps Drift for the past three months. (Ian Carbutt)

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A broken sewer at the edge of Camps Drift has been discharging thousands of litres of sewage into the river for over three months despite multiple complaints from local paddlers.

Positioned just a few metres from the water’s edge on the grassy banks of the river, the broken manhole is estimated to leak around 1 000 litres of sewage per minute by some local paddlers.

The Witness visited the blocked manhole on Wednesday afternoon and found it overflowing with disintegrated toilet paper, and human waste.

The sewage has formed a rivulet running from the manhole straight into the Duzi River at Camps Drift.

Although the leaking manhole can be heard and smelt from metres away, there were still several people fishing a little way away from it.

There were also several people who were sitting on the river bank, eating their lunch less than 20 metres away.

Pietermaritzburg resident and paddler Gavin Dundas-Starr said he and “about 30 local canoeists” had been reporting the leaking sewer for the past three months.

He said, however, that the reports have “fallen on deaf ears of the municipality”.

“A lot of the paddlers feel that this issue has not been taken seriously,” said Dundas-Starr.

“This is the home of Pietermaritzburg paddling.

“When you get out on to the water, it feels like you are paddling in a sewer pit. It is disgusting.”

Dundas-Starr said for regular paddlers and professional paddlers, “hepatitis vaccines and daily pro-biotics are the norm”.

He said the Camps Drift to Bishopstowe Canoe Race, which is one of the Duzi seeding races, was two weeks ago.

“Some of the paddlers who took part are still sick,”he said.

“My children like to paddle but I don’t really want them to be in the water because of the sewage, but in the afternoons we have about 50 kids paddling out on the Duzi.

“My children only paddle about three times a week.”

He added that people who participate in the park runs on Saturdays also run past the blocked manhole.

He said it had become a health and safety hazard for those using the Duzi to fish or paddle.

Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust’s (Duct) David Still said on Wednesday that in following the terms of their contract with the municipality, Duct locates and reports leaking sewers to the municipality to fix.

Still said Duct could not comment further as Duct is not allowed to communicate directly with the media.

The Msunduzi Municipality had not responded to media queries at the time of going to print on Wednesday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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