30 June 2017: Top City of Cape Town officials and political representatives accompanied community leaders, representatives from the Human Rights Commission, and activists on a trip through Masiphumelele.
The City of Cape Town is working hard to improve living conditions and has developed a plan to enhance service delivery in the area, spending nearly R1 million since March 2017. Door-to-door refuse collection has been increased from five days a week to seven, the area was one of 20 to benefit from the Winter Readiness Programme, and reeds at the bottom of the stormwater canals have been cut away to improve drainage and reduce the risk of flooding.
However, it is important that we continue to provide communities and local non-governmental organisations with channels for feedback and constructive suggestions. This is in line with the City’s new Organisational Development and Transformation Plan which prioritises consistent and effective engagement with communities.
One of the most salient issues discussed yesterday was the management of the four stormwater canals in Masiphumelele. In this regard:
- A technical investigation into the feasibility of diverting polluted low-flow stormwater from the existing Masiphumelele canals into the sewer is ongoing. A pilot project is being undertaken which will form part of the wash house structure and also divert grey water to sewers. Depending on the success of the wash houses, this model may be replicated
- The cleaning of the stormwater canals continues on an almost daily basis. A combination of contractors and Expanded Public Works Programme workers are performing cleaning operations. Where it is warranted, mechanical methods are also being used
- The introduction of more frequent cleaning of silt from the stormwater canals is ongoing. Where resources are available, frequency is being increased
Also suggested to improve the condition of stormwater canals and reduce pressure on the toilets in the area was the roll-out of portable flush toilets. These toilets can be kept in the home and will be emptied regularly by the City. The community had previously rejected this typology, however leadership indicated that this may now be a feasible option. Currently residents, especially women and children who feel unsafe using shared toilets at night, make use of night soil containers which are then emptied into the canals, creating a public health risk as the drainage from these canals is in most cases insufficient to deal with the volume of dumped waste. The City welcomes this long-awaited cooperation.
‘We are optimistic that continued direct engagement, coupled with the intensive roll-out of services, will continue to foster the trust necessary for us to start working more effectively as a team. There is a legacy of distrust between these residents and previous administrations that has made it hard for the City to provide services, and we are committed to doing what is necessary to change the tone and move forward in a new direction. Hopefully the newfound willingness to engage on the issue of portable flush toilets indicates that progress is being made in this regard,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.
The City is also running education programmes regarding the impact of pollutants entering the stormwater system and the wetlands area. This includes proactive interventions that residents could take to minimise the pollution of the stormwater system.
In addition to consultation around the canals, persistent sewage overflows in the Zulu Land section were discussed. The City has been hamstrung in fixing the problem thus far as there are currently a number of dwellings built over the piping, making it impossible to access the infrastructure for repairs. As such, a number of options were discussed, including the temporary relocation of a few dwellings and the construction of a new sewerage line which will require the closure of one of the main thoroughfares. Community leaders indicated that they could engage with residents in this regard.
‘We are thankful to the community members who accompanied us on the visit and to those community leaders who, despite challenging conditions, are able to engage with the City with the bigger picture in mind. If we are to continue to make progress possible, it will require patience, understanding, commitment, sensitivity and hard work from all parties – all of which was displayed during our engagements yesterday,’ added Councillor Limberg.
Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town
Media enquiries: Councillor Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, City of Cape Town,
Tel: 021 400 1299 or Cell: 074 279 9940,