WATCH: Dump grinds to a halt

2019-03-27 12:56
Tip pickers sift through piles of rubbish blocking the New England road dump yesterday.

Tip pickers sift through piles of rubbish blocking the New England road dump yesterday.

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The main entrance to the New England Road landfill and the road outside became the “dump” on Tuesday as operations inside the site came to a halt due to machinery not working.

Scores of municipal waste trucks and other vehicles arrived at the dump site on Wednesday, only to find they could not enter as the main entrance was blocked with piles of waste.

Instead, the trucks took to dumping their waste at the front gate leading to the entrance and all along the road leading to the dump. By mid afternoon New England Road leading up to the landfill entrance had been reduced to a single lane.

Thousands of plastic bags, old food, garden refuse and other rubbish littered the roadside for hundreds of metres along the road leading to the dump.

Scores of waste pickers — who normally operate inside the dump site — were at work at the roadside as truck after truck came to dump more waste along the sandy verge of the road. With mountains of rubbish accumulating along the road, waste pickers had to dodge multiple dumping trucks which at times blocked the road for other vehicles as they all tried to offload their waste as close to the entrance of the site as possible.

Other trucks avoided the chaos at the entrance and began dumping further along the road towards the Hayfields KwikSpar.

A municipal truck driver who declined to be named said the dumping was not part of any strike, but was because they had been told that the site was “too full” for more waste.

Scores of local residents called The Witness on Tuesday to report the commotion at the dump, saying they could “not believe the chaos”.

Tip pickers sift through piles of rubbish blocking the New England road dump on Tuesday.

One resident who asked not to be named said he saw the mayhem while passing through the area. “I was at the dump two weeks ago and I could not get in. There was only enough space for me to drive over rubbish, make a U-turn and drive out,” he said.

In January this year, The Witness reported that the dump is “overwhelmed with rubbish due to bad management and broken machinery”.

Landfill site workers said on Tuesday they could not work but they were not on strike either. According to them uncompacted rubbish has been piling up for months as they were only able to do the minimum of what they should be doing. This is due to ongoing issues with machinery.

Adding to the load is the fact that the dump is also being used by neighbouring municipalities, including uMshwati and Mooi-Mpofana, which do not have their own sites.

The workers blamed broken machinery for Tuesday’s chaos, saying three of the municipality’s heavy duty machines that were purchased for the landfill’s operations were broken.

One of them is their only Bomag waste compactor, which has not worked for close to two years.

The Dressta machinery is less than a year old but it has also been broken for three months.

“Apparently the mechanics need to fit four bolts somewhere in Dressta. We don’t know whether they are being ordered from abroad or the municipality has given up on it like the Bomag,” said one of the workers.

The City hired four types of plant equipment — including two payloaders — from Aqua Transport to be used at the dump.

However the staff said on Monday they were told they could not touch them as Msunduzi had failed to pay the company on time.

“It makes no sense to us why the municipality would not pay Aqua on time or just buy its own machinery because the landfill is generating a lot of money for the City.”

The workers said the cash-strapped Msunduzi should have approached the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to borrow its plant equipment for free instead of entering to contracts it could not honour. Cogta has offered assistance to KZN municipalities in terms of its “good green deeds” campaign.

The workers also said the Department of Environmental Affairs should investigate the municipality for flouting the provision of the waste management licence.

“This site is disaster waiting to happen ... At this point even the fire engine won’t be able to enter if there were to be a fire and we all know how prone this site is to fires.”

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said on Tuesday that they had a problem with defective machinery. “Additional yellow plant [machinery] was hired in to deal with the backlog. The situation will normalise from tomorrow [Wednesday].”

However, one of the two TLBs that were hired from a local company on Tuesday afternoon had a tyre puncture within minutes of arriving on site.

“The TLBs are not going to help because they only move the rubbish onto the sides of the roads. They are only making space for the night waste collection team to dump so the problem will only get worse tomorrow,” one of the workers said.

Aqua Transport did not respond to media queries at the time of going to print on Tuesday evening.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  dumpsite
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