Residents living in the sewage-flooded streets of Lower Crossroads said they are getting increasingly worried about their health, and especially of their children.
People living on Tolofiya, Siphingo and Mthuma streets told Vukani that despite years of reporting the problem to the local councillor and the City of Cape Town, their cries have fallen on deaf ears.
Disgusted by the dam of sewage they are living in, residents said they have been calling the City to change the sewerage system, which they believe is old and was meant for a smaller area.
The fuming residents said the City should realise that the area has grown.
When Vukani visited the area last week Thursday, the raw sewage again flooded the streets and flowed into the houses.
Mongekazi Zingelwa said her child had been trapped inside the house because they could not go out.
She condemned the inhumane way they have to live. She said the flooding has stripped them of their dignity.
“Our children often require medical treatment for skin rashes and diarrhoea. Children are always sick. There are times when they cannot go to school because they are trapped inside the house, like this week,” she said.
Even Vukani struggled to navigate the streets and had to jump fences to get through. One street was totally closed.Another resident Notemba Liwani agreed that the area is a breeding ground for diseases.
She said the years of exposure to raw sewage in the area contributed to their bad health.
“The sad part is that when you go to the local leaders they will ask you stupid questions like ‘so what must I do with that’. Those are people we put into power to lead us. But what you see here is what we live with all the time and for years. This is the problem we have started to experience since this area has become bigger. “
She said often the City ignored the plight of residents.
“It is not that we do not report it. I do not know how many reference numbers I have and how many my neighbours have. All you get from the City is reference numbers not the service you expect,” she said.
Another resident whose home was flooded, Thuliswa Zingelwa, said their problem will only end when the system has been changed.
“I am not an expert on these things but I believe this system is old and the pipes are small. I say this because after the problem has been fixed it took a day or so to be blocked again. Maybe that is why the City keeps ignoring our cries,” she said.
Mayco member for water and sanitation, Xanthea Limberg, admitted that the City is aware of this issue, and is doing everything possible to address it as quickly as possible.
She said the overflow that started last week was caused by a collapsed pipe combined with the misuse of the sewers. She said the initial overflow was attended to last Thursday, February 7.
“The City contained the spill, and set up an over pumping system that is a system where sewage is pumped around the blocked/damaged pipe using a mobile pump. Unfortunately, however, a fault then occurred at the local rags that had been flushed down the toilets. This led to the overflow starting again,” she said.
Ms Limberg said they spent the weekend attempting to repair the pump station but were unable to resolve the problem.
She said load shedding has also delayed the repairs and work to repair the pump station will continue as fast as conditions allow, and once this is completed, repairs to the damaged pipes will begin.
She also called on residents to be cautious when using toilets. She said residents should note that the majority of overflow in this area is caused by serious misuse of the sewer system.
She said the City works throughout the year to proactively maintain and upgrade the sewerage network, prioritising repairs based on factors such as the age of the pipes and the material used.