Heavy smoke covering Pietermaritzburg. Image: The Chubby Limpopian via Twitter
Heavy smoke covering Pietermaritzburg. Image: The Chubby Limpopian via Twitter

Msunduzi is choking on smoke and Minister Creecy needs to act - DA

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Jul 25, 2020

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Pietermaritzburg – The Democratic Alliance on Saturday threatened to interdict the Msunduzi Municipality if Environment, Forestry, and fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy fails to intervene swiftly in the ongoing fires and pollution at a local municipal landfill site.

The DA calls for the New England Road landfill site in Msunduzi to be declared a disaster site as per the Disaster Management Act, DA shadow deputy minister for environment, forestry, and fisheries Hannah Shameema Winkler said in a statement.

The DA had written to Creecy to request urgent intervention in the management of the site after failure by the Msunduzi Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal government to address the ongoing issues, she said.

The landfill site had been on fire since Tuesday, July 21, and continued to smoulder, "gassing neighbouring communities under a thick cloud of toxic smoke".

This fire outbreak was the most severe to date, although there had been numerous fires on the landfill site over the years causing severe distress to Pietermaritzburg residents due to heavy air pollution, Winkler said.

The DA had repeatedly called on Msunduzi Municipality for competent management of the landfill site through the establishment of a non-partisan landfill site monitoring committee; proper access control and perimeter fencing; collaboration with waste experts to resolve ongoing operational and waste management issues; a dedicated recycling area for waste-pickers; management of toxic leachate which was flowing into the Umgeni River; fixing the site's weighbridge; and adequate housing for people living on the landfill site, she said.

According to waste experts, the landfill site had been left to deteriorate past the point of no return and urgently needed to be shut down and rehabilitated. This, however, required suitable land to be identified and was a protracted process.

The DA recognised that shutting down the landfill site was required, and would push for this to be resolved as quickly as possible. However, in the short-term, adequate management and compliance of the New England Road landfill site was a priority.

"We have called on minister Creecy to fulfil her department's mandate as per the Waste Management Act. Should the minister not intervene swiftly, the DA will interdict Msunduzi Municipality. The residents of Msunduzi have had enough," Winkler said.

- African News Agency (ANA)

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