City of Cape Town staff are clearing the stormwater system ahead of winter rain. Photo: Supplied (CoCT)

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has urged communities to refrain from dumping objects in stormwater drains, which have even been found to include mattresses, and to report anyone who is doing so.

Roads in certain areas across Cape Town are prone to flooding during the rainy season and this often occurs due to blocked storm water drains, mostly as a result of illegal dumping into the storm water system, the city said in a statement on Sunday.

The roads and storm water department had a maintenance programme within each district, and the various roads depots did regular inspections of the roads and storm water systems and responded to service requests from residents.

"I recently went along with one of these teams to assist them with repair and maintenance work in Heideveld. I was impressed by the officials’ dedication and the effort and strength it takes to do this work," mayoral committee member for transport Felicity Purchase said in the statement.

Staff workers cleaned drains and cleared blockages using combination jet machines, and often found mattresses, rags, bottles, building rubble, and substances "like motor vehicle oil" in the storm water system. The city teams had also found that people living on the streets often stored their belongings in the drains, and this posed a risk as winter approached, she said.

"Apart from illegal dumping, the city faces a huge challenge with the theft and vandalism of storm water covers and frames. Repairing and replacing frames and covers cost between R3000 and R4500 each. Then you also have to keep in mind that it easily takes half a working day to fix a storm water drain. Sometimes the drain is so badly damaged or vandalised that the officials have to rebuild it."

City of Cape Town staff are clearing the stormwater system ahead of winter rain. Photo: Supplied (CoCT)

In an effort to minimise the cost the city was replacing cast iron with polymer covers. Some sites were targeted over and over. The teams often cleared major blockages and replaced drain covers only to return to the same sites to find that the pipes were blocked yet again, and the covers stolen. This waste of resources and time was unjustifiable and delayed essential maintenance programmes to ensure the storm water drainage system was clear and able to cope once the winter rain arrived.

"I’m calling on residents to please work with us and to report those who vandalise our infrastructure. In the end, those who suffer most are the people living along blocked storm water drains, as the roads will flood when the water cannot enter and flow freely through the system. Capetonians can also assist by clearing their driveways, pavements, and gutters of waste and plant material," Purchase said.

Service requests can be directed to the transport information centre on 0800-65-64-63. This is a 24/7 information centre and is toll-free from a landline or a cellphone. Residents can also log a service request on the city’s website by selecting "Roads and Stormwater" with the option of reporting a stolen cover, or requesting urgent maintenance work.

African News Agency (ANA)