Cape Town informal settlements’ expansion putting pressure on sanitation, electricity services
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Cape Town – The expansion of informal settlements near Brown’s Farm, in Philippi and in Dunoon have put pressure on residents’ sanitation and electricity services, they said, as overwhelmed systems have led to them living in sewerage and without lights.
Victoria Mxenge and Dunoon communities said the issue has been getting worse over the past five years.
In Victoria Mxenge, residents said since the establishment of the Ramaphosa informal settlement, on an open field next to their homes in 2018, services have been burdened.
Community activist Pat Mtholengwe said: “Our electricity was not working for nine months. We then informed the City of Cape Town, as the residents of Ramaphosa informal settlement had tampered with our electrical boxes because they wanted to connect their illegal electricity connections. The electricity was fixed but, on some days, we still experience problems.
’’We no longer open our windows and doors at home, due to the smell that comes from the drains. We have a paralysed neighbour and a daycare nearby that have been affected badly by this.”
A daycare deputy principal, Nomthandazo Banda, said the children have become sick due to the smell that emanates from the drain.
Dunoon community activist Meisie Mpukane said several blocked drains are damaging roads and posing a health hazard.
“It’s very bad, it's not something new, it's been like this for several years. As we speak, there is sewerage water all over the roads – it's even difficult for cars to enter Dunoon. The stench is unbearable,” said Mpukane.
Area councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said motorists’ cars are being damaged.
Victoria Mxenge mayoral committee member for water and sanitation Xanthea Limberg said: “The City can confirm that vandalism of pump stations and dumping into sewers are the causes of chronic overflows in this area. Unfortunately, it is not advisable to remove pump stations completely, as a way of avoiding vandalism, as sewage cannot flow to treatment works without them.”
Limberg said that Dunoon is densely populated and has seen rapid growth, with high levels of unauthorised buildings, adding that water and sanitation teams are in the area, attending to maintenance and repair work every week.
“Materials pulled from the pipes regularly include rags, wet wipes, rubble, nappies, among a range of other items, that the sewerage system is not designed to transport.
’’When combined with cooking fat/grease poured down drains and into the system, which hardens and acts like glue, major blockages occur, leading to sewerage overflows,” said Limberg.