City needs to clean up

The City of Cape Town has been found to be in contravention of environmental legislation in Masiphumelele.

In a directive issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs earlier this month, the City was found to be in contravention of the National Environmental Management Act and causing “significant pollution and/or degradation to the environment, which constitutes a significant danger to the health and well-being” of Masiphumelele residents.

During an investigation into pollution in the township, a site inspection by the department on Thursday 19 January found the City had failed to provide adequate ablution, washing and storm water management as well as solid waste management practices in Masiphumelele, the directive states.

The inspection was carried out after community members complained of contaminated water in the township’s canals. Shacks are situated directly alongside the canals and residents cross them using improvised bridges made of planks. When the water levels are low, residents walk through the sludge and children play in the mud, the complaints add.

The directive orders the City to undertake a thorough and effective clean-up, remove stock piles of refuse and carry out maintenance of toilets, washing facilities, canals and other wastewater infrastructure. The directive also ordered a progress report to be submitted within 14 days of its issue.

Subcouncil chairperson Felicity Purchase says although problems with cleaning were experienced in the first two weeks of January, “major cleaning” has been done since.

Toilets facilities in the area are an ongoing problem, but there are plans for a pilot project to install new ablution blocks in March.

“The problem is overcrowding and vandalism. When we were requested to put fencing to protect the wetland, the activists objected. We will continue to fix toilets regularly as brought to our attention but the community also need to do their part and stop the theft of our taps and pipes. They need to take ownership and responsibility,”  she says.

At the time of publication, the City had not yet commented further.

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