The shutdown of services in Lotus Park informal settlements in Gugulethu has left residents with little choice regarding how to dispose of their garbage.
Municipal workers who have been cleaning the area, especially the canal, have apparently stopped doing so since the beginning of March, resulting in heaps of garbage scattered all over the area.
The dirty canal in which children play, has left residents fuming and some worried about their children’s health and their own. Children playing with dirt, birds feasting in the dirt and dogs tearing the garbage bags left along the streets are some of the scenes in the area. Residents and their councillor Sonwabo Ngxumza also lament the persistent illegal dumping.
They said people with no dustbins to put their dirt in have had a devastating impact on the area.
The local residents’ committee tried on Friday April 3 to clean the streets but not the canal.
Zoleka Dudumisa, who lives near the canal, said people were dumping garbage into the canal and under the enclosed bridge. She said she cannot blame residents because there is nowhere else they can put their garbage.
Her worry is her children now that they are not at school.
“Even with this lockdown, our children still go out and play. They are all over the place and the young ones see water and play in it, irrespective if it is clean or not. Most of the children here have rashes and pimples,” she said.
Committee member Thembinkosi Bhala said residents of the area had it tough.
He said it was now more important than ever that all areas were cleaned. “We have this coronavirus and yet our areas are in this mess. This is the time when we should get assistance,” he said, adding that heaps of rubbish and the dirty canal had affected people’s health.
He also reiterated the fact that the most vulnerable were children.
“We opted to clean for the sake of our children. But we cannot do it as well as the City workers clean here. We don’t even have proper clothing for cleaning but we have to do it anyway,” said Mr Bhala. Mr Ngxumza said he had done his bit by contacting all departments in the City of Cape Town.
He called on the City to respect people and to act swiftly. “There were cleaners until the beginning of March. This canal used to be cleaned. But when I contacted the City, I was sent from pillar to post. Solid waste and the health department all know about this situation. We just want to appeal to them to respect people,” he said.
The City’s Mayco member for Waste and Water, Xanthea Limberg said the canal had been cleaned of waste in February.
She said the City is receiving an unprecedented number of complaints of illegal dumping, including dumping into the stormwater canal in the Lotus Park area..Councillor Limberg said Work is undertaken according to a planned maintenance plan, which balances competing priorities and constrained resources as optimally as possible to achieve the most efficient service delivery possible.
“This branch also responds to ad hoc requests for cleaning/maintenance, but due to constrained resources and the number of requests, these requests are responded to on a priority basis, where appropriate, the plan is amended to respond to realities on the ground,” she said.
She added that the Stormwater office will not be undertaking any routine maintenance during the 21-day lock-down period, as this has not been classified an essential service.
She urged residents to report illegal dumping to City Law Enforcement on 0860765423, City Solid Waste Law Enforcement on 0860103089 or the South African Police Services on 0800333177.