CAPE TOWN - Philippi ward councillors have expressed concern as the flooding of roads in the township remains a persistent problem during the rainy season.
Ward councillor of Philippi Nkululeko Mgolombane expressed his concern over the flooding of roads in townships, as a health hazard. He explained that, despite these problems being reported to the City of Cape Town every year, they remain unresolved.
“It’s a big mess and community members are desperate, as they are forced to live in flooded roads. The issue of flooded roads has been reported since as early as 2016, when I came into office, but they remain unresolved.
“Flooded roads lead to fatal accidents and pose a sanitation risk. We are heading into the third wave of the pandemic, but are facing the situation where people are forced to live surrounded by dirty water,” said Mgolombane.
Ward councillor of Philippi East Fikiswa Nkunzana explained that the flooding of roads, and portions of land in Philippi, is an ongoing problem facing the community every year. She explained that the problem stems from faults in stormwater infrastructure drains employed by the City.
“The Western Cape experiences a lot of rainfall during winter. Due to problems in our draining systems, these storm drainage systems get filled with sand and debris, and cause drains to block,” said Nkunzana.
Nkunzana explained that the drain structures in townships are unable to cope with the capacity of residents occupying the systems. Instead of rain water filtering through the drains, it clogs and drains get blocked. The water floods the streets, causing unhygienic and unsanitary conditions.
“The floods cause damage to the roads. Often cars cannot see potholes and objects under the water, and this often leads to terrible car accidents and is unsafe for both pedestrians and drivers,” added Nkunzana.
City of Cape Town’s media communications manager Luthando Tyhalibongo explained that the City’s stormwater infrastructure is designed to receive and manage run-off during rainfall events, as is currently the case during this cold front that has brought about substantial rainfall. He said that flooding usually occurs during heavy rainfall, but will gradually subside as the run-off is carried through the stormwater system.
“Stormwater infrastructure, unfortunately, sometimes gets blocked by debris and foreign objects that get dumped into the system by residents who use it as a way of getting rid of waste. This is illegal and dangerous, as it prevents run-off from entering the stormwater system through inlets or, at times, the blockage is within the stormwater mains itself. It goes without saying that when the system gets blocked due to illegal dumping or sand ingress, the roads will get flooded,” said Tyhalibongo.
Tyhalibongo said that the City is urging residents to work with them by not dumping objects into the stormwater system, which is designed to carry run-off only. Furthermore, all road users are advised to be extra cautious when driving in rain and in wet conditions, and to reduce their speed, as wet surfaces can result in aquaplaning. Vehicles also need more stopping distance in wet road conditions.
In case of flooding, the City’s road maintenance teams will respond to reports of flooding, to unblock stormwater systems. During heavy rains the response time may be longer as the number of reported incidents may be very high across the city.