DURBAN - TWELVE directives in terms of the National Environmental Management Act have been issued against the eThekwini Municipality, mainly for sewage spillages resulting from malfunctioning pump stations.
This is according to a response provided by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) to questions posed by MPL Heinz de Boer, the DA’s spokesperson on environmental affairs.
Yesterday after several images were circulated on social media of a possible sewage spill in the Durban harbour, the municipality said sewage had entered the Durban port after some of its pump stations malfunctioned as a result of ongoing load shedding and vandalism.
Edtea said in its response to De Boer that the warnings, which included Section 28 and Section 30 directives, had been issued in the past 24 months. In total, 34 directives were issued, with the other municipalities cited including Ugu District Municipality, the City of uMhlathuze and Endumeni Municipality.
The areas cited in eThekwini included Blackburn pump station, Paradise Valley sewerage system, Isipingo River, Umbilo Canal and Umgeni River. De Boer said municipal officials should be held accountable for the issues.
“KZN is a province with tourism and massive job-creation potential that lies undeveloped. Poor municipal management can no longer be allowed to ruin the lives of so many who are languishing under the blanket of unemployment.”
EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said that eThekwini, like any other city, was not immune to ageing infrastructure. However, he said the city had made strides in upgrading its infrastructure.
“To augment our revenue for upgrading infrastructure, eThekwini Water and Sanitation has proposed and received approval from the city for the implementation of the infrastructure levy to fund these projects,” he said.
Mayisela said there were many factors that influenced pollution.
These included the vandalism of infrastructure that resulted in pumps malfunctioning, challenges with industries that dumped hazardous liquids into the river systems, and alien objects that were entering the systems, such as rags and plastic, which posed a serious threat to the day-to-day operation of the infrastructure.
“It should be noted that for our rivers to be free of pollution, we require all stakeholders to work with the city in this regard, and we appreciate residents and community formations that have taken the initiative to protect our environment,” said Mayisela.
Speaking on the recent issue, Mayisela said the city conceded that some of its pump stations malfunctioned.
“This is largely the result of vandalism and unrelenting load shedding. Moving from one load-shedding stage to the next happened to occur haphazardly, leaving us with a very little room to shut down some of the stations to avoid them discharging raw sewage into the port,” he said.
Mayisela said the city was conducting an assessment.
“It should be noted that this is a situation that is beyond our control in which we appeal to the public to work with us, and we fully understand the inconvenience it is causing,” said Mayisela.
The city had processes under way to look into procuring generators for all of its 200 pump stations, he said.
“Each generator costs in excess of R2 million. The city is working around the clock to normalise the situation, and there is no need to panic,” he said.