Gugs residents hope sewer project will end spills

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis inspecting the drainage system in Gugulethu.

Gugulethu residents have welcomed the completion of an extensive sewer pipe replacement project in the neighbourhood.

The project started early last year and involved excavating the road to access and move the sewer line so that it was under the road surface and not between properties.

The project will minimise sewage spills and blockages in the area, says the City.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and various City officials visited the area on Thursday last week to mark the completion of the project.

“This is the quality of life we should give to people,” said Mr Hill-Lewis. “I am so grateful to everyone involved. This project was stalled for a long time. Earlier this year, I visited the area and got this project up and running again, and it’s wonderful to see the results. The improvements for the community are tremendous.”

Calling the project a “remarkable achievement” resident Nosizwe Noji said she was glad that she would no longer have to navigate raw sewerage.

“It was irritating and a health hazard to us all including children who struggled to play on the streets because of the risk to their health. The drain blockages were heavy at times.”

She added: “Today we are celebrating, and we have to thank the project co-ordinator and the contractor that were here. They were all disciplined and respectful to the residents. Today we won’t have a sewer problem.”

Another resident, Johnny Mdleleni, said there were still many blocked drains elsewhere in the neighbourhood. “This is just a beginning because we still have bigger challenges. We also think that service delivery takes time to come to us here.”

However, in a statement, the City said it was on track to exceed its target of doubling sewer pipe replacement to 50km for the 22/23 financial year ending June 2023. It said the Gugulethu project was part of a major sewer pipe focus that would see 100km being replaced every year across the metro, for a total investment of R850m over the next three years.

The pipe replacement was part of a strategy to reduce sewer spills over time and it included major bulk-sewer upgrades, proactive cleaning of sewer lines, resourcing of sewer-spill response teams, and digital telemetry systems for early warnings of sewer spills.

Over the next three years, the City would spend R1.3bn in major bulk sewer upgrades to the Cape Flats, Philippi, Milnerton, and Gordon’s Bay lines, the statement said.

Asked how the City had managed to finish the work when so many construction projects were dogged by extortion rackets, the mayor said: “Here we have been blessed because there was no intimidation, no threats. The people here put a stop to that. Extortion is a difficult and complex issue. The community has to stand up and reject it.”

Mr Hill-Lewis said improved sanitation in Gugulethu meant dignity and a better quality of life and it would promote economic growth in the community.

“The completed Gugulethu project is one of 36 we are executing in communities across Cape Town this year as part of our ambitious plans to ultimately quadruple sewer pipe replacement to 100km annually,” he said.

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis meets with residents during his visit to Gugulethu last Thursday.