Cape Town - An arson attack has completely destroyed the Wallacedene sewage pump station in Kraaifontein.
A high level of infrastructure damage has left the critical pump station unable to operate, and resulted in sewer overflows and flooding at the pump station, as well as the linked sewer network throughout Wallacedene.
Water and sanitation mayoral committee member Dr Zahid Badroodien said he was briefed by officials on Saturday night when the pump station was torched.
He said the costs to repair the pump station, which had a critical function in conveying sewage from homes and businesses to wastewater treatment plants, could amount to hundreds of thousands of rand.
Badroodien said the first inspections of the damage took place on Sunday and the initial reports indicated that the pump station was completely out of commission, and that overflows and flooding had worsened.
“This act of vandalism will impact the surrounding communities and the receiving natural environment.
“With the winter rains looming and the pump station not working, rainwater will dilute the sewage and it will spill into the streets, giving rise to potential health concerns.
“Furthermore, raw sewage that enters the environment will affect water quality in the system, making it unusable for water users downstream, such as farmers,” Badroodien said.
The City’s water and sanitation sewer teams were exploring a multitude of options to reduce the impact. Badroodien said this included diverting flow from the damaged pump station to other parts of the sewer network.
Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk confirmed Kraaifontein police were investigating the arson case and that no arrests had yet been made.
Department of water and sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: “We strongly condemn these incidents, as they are a major setback on progress made to deliver much-needed services.
“At times, the resources meant to develop new infrastructure are affected by vandalism of the existing infrastructure. We appeal to anyone with information to report this to the law enforcement agencies.”
Ratau said more serious security measures needed to be implemented and current security measures needed to be strengthened.
Ward councillor Siviwe Nodliwa said there was understandable frustration among community members and the intention to destroy the little resources they had was unjustifiable, especially as even receiving these services from the municipality was difficult.
“This informal community already faces many challenges, such as an overburdened infrastructure due to rapid and often uncontrolled development, with illegal sewage and stormwater connections resulting in overflows. This latest attack puts the community at further risk of more and worse system failures,” Badroodien said.
Community activist Linda Phito said the major issues in Kraaifontein communities, particularly Bloekombos and Wallacedene, were the high levels of crime and poor service delivery – especially the long waiting periods before service delivery issues were attended to.