Cape Town – Despite the large sums of money spent in clearing illegal dumping in Cape Town, the City warns the problem is escalating with close to 3 000 sites contributing to the headache.
Over the past six months, the City of Cape Town spent R52 million in clearing out illegal dumping sites as calls are made for a more sustainable solution to address the catastrophe.
Just three months ago, the City announced an additional R200m from its own coffers and the National Government Public Employment Programme would go towards funding the Rapid Response Programme (RPP) to address the matter. On an annual basis. the City budgets R130m to deal with clearing illegal dumpings.
Phase one of the programme ran from July to December, while the second phase is expected to run for the remainder of the current financial year.
Mayco member for Urban Waste Management Grant Twigg, told Weekend Argus that in the past six months of last year, the cost of clearing the illegal dumping sites was R52m.
“There is no marked decrease in illegal dumping sites in the City. We are battling with illegal dumping recurrence,” he said.
“Illegal dumping remains a huge problem city-wide. More than 180 000 tonnes of waste is cleared annually from illegal dumping hotspots. It stands in the way of the health and safety of our communities and the environments in which we live. The City has implemented a strategy to tackle this challenge, with the help of local residents assigned to the programme, through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
Twigg said all densely populated settlements were experiencing high volumes of littering and illegal dumping. The emergence of dumping sites is also more prominent in informal settlements across the metro where services aren’t available. Last year, around 54 new informal settlements were said to have cropped up since the pandemic hit.
Residents who stay near these illegal sites have called on the city to be more pro-active in ensuring that cleared spots remain clean.
Alwaba Kobo, 24, a student who lives near a site in Woodstock, said the spot attracts criminals to the area.
“The dumping site does affect us because that place is dirty and it brings a lot of criminals because it is not looked after.
“No one is making sure that place is safe,” said Kobo.
Another resident Ashwin Martinus, said the illegal dumping continued in the area even though the city repeatedly removed rubbish from the site.
Epidemiologist and health expert from Stellenbosch University, Dr Jo Barnes warned that illegal dumping put rivers and streams at risk.
“The most important thing is that the landfill site must be lined so that the pollution does not infiltrate the ground below and pollute our groundwater for many kilometres and that rain does not cause run off that pollutes nearby rivers and streams.
“When people dump waste in inappropriate places, none of the above safety precautions are in place. The decaying waste contains a lot of rotting foodstuff, human sewage, unwanted and even dangerous chemicals and this forms a direct contact point with these health risks,” she said.
Activist and the founder of Stop CoCT Sandra Dickson, said increasing the number of legal dumping sites to accommodate a growing population could assist in addressing the problem.
“If one looks at how they are placed (dumping sites), one can clearly see that they are far apart and in some areas, residents have to travel over 15 kilometres to get to them.
“If one looks at the amount of litter and rubbish around Cape Town, the conclusion is that the number of drop off facilities are inadequate to serve such a large number of people,” said Dickson.
Chairperson of the Community Police Forum (CPF) in Gugulethu, Ntandazo Gcingca, said illegal dumping sites in the area were a disgrace and an environmental hazard.
“It is a disgrace for our people, especially (the) well-off, who do not take it out (their trash) on time and would later hire people to dump it for them randomly,” said Gcingca.
“The City of Cape Town is supposed to be doing environmental awareness so that even children may be aware that it is wrong to even throw (randomly) a piece of a sweet and bubble gum.”