KZN’s Greytown residents up in arms over dump site smell

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Smoke emanating from the dump site on Dr Gordon Street in Greytown.
Smoke emanating from the dump site on Dr Gordon Street in Greytown.

Business owners and residents in Greytown are fed up with a nauseating smell emanating from a local dump site near Dr Gordon Street and the smoke is affecting residents’ health.

The stench of burnt unknown chemicals and other waste materials has left many homeowners in the area complaining of severe burning eyes, breathing problems and choking throats.

The thick, strong smelling smoke continues to engulf Nhlalakahle Township and other parts of Greytown as municipal workers continue to dump more refuse at the site. It’s alleged that after dumping waste materials, municipal workers burn the refuse.

A business owner near the site who wanted to remain anonymous told The Witness that uMvoti Municiplaity has failed to transport refuse to a landfill site in Pietermaritzburg.

“Every day there is a smoke emanating from the dump site. I am starting to feel chest pains and having difficulty breathing since the fire started at the site two weeks ago. When there is a strong wind, the smoke spreads rapidly to the entire township and nearby businesses on Dr Gordon Street. The municipality has failed to remove refuse from the dump site and transport it to a landfill site.”

READ | Rights Commission’s Pietermaritzburg landfill case gets started

Fikile Zwakwe and her family live near the site. She said for the past two weeks the smell has been unbearable.

“I’m coughing due to the bad smell of burnt waste materials. The smell comes right through to my house. We have complained to the municipality, but nobody takes our complaints seriously. We shouldn’t be going through all of this while the world is battling to flatten the curve of Covid-19. I started coughing few days after municipal workers started burning refuse and other chemicals that smell like petrol.

“My children have been complaining of chest pains since the fire started at the site. An urgent intervention is needed to force the municipality to stop burning refuse ...,” Zakwe said.

Other residents complained about flies and cockroaches from the site.

It’s not true that municipal workers are burning refuse at the site. What they see in the site is not fire, but gas emissions caused by the piling up of refuse.”
Waste Management, Parks and Gardens manager S’khumbuzo Dlamini

Manager at a local call centre G911 Mark Bower said their office has been inundated with calls from frustrated residents complaining about the fire at the dumping ground.

Attempts to get a comment from uMvoti Municipality were unsuccessful on Wednesday. However, a manager for Waste Management, Parks and Gardens, S’khumbuzo Dlamini, said there was a backlog in the transportation of refuse from the local dump site to the main landfill site in Pietermaritzburg.

“After the landfill site in uMgungundlovu had some issues, local municipalities such as uMshwathi and uMvoti were severely affected because we had to dump refuse at our dump site. It’s not true that municipal workers are burning refuse at the site. What they see in the site is not fire, but gas emissions caused by the piling up of refuse.

Dlamini added that the uMvoti Municipality is in the process of completing a local landfill site.

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