City rethinks replacement of drain covers

Goawa Timm, councillor for Ward 76, in Lentegeur, shows how residents cover their water management device covers to prevent theft.

Theft of dozens of drain covers across Lentegeur has forced the City of Cape Town to rethink how they can cover manholes, water management devices (WMDs) and bulk meter chamber covers.

For the past two months Goawa Timm, councillor for Ward 76 has raised the matter of theft at Sub-council 23 meetings because residents have been injured by tripping over them.

According to the sub-council notes in this month’s agenda dated Monday March 18, between February 1 and March 12 the covers of 19 devices and a bulk meter chamber cover were stolen.

It also mentions that two sewer manhole covers and three WMD covers were stolen in Ward 43 (Strandfontein and parts of Philippi) and a further three WMD covers stolen, one each in Colorado Park, Rondevlei Park and Woodlands.

Ms Timm also queried why it took so long to have the covers replaced.

In Azalia Crescent, where the bulk meter chamber cover was stolen, it was only replaced three days later.

“We need to put a stop to these drains being uncovered. Residents’ children are coming to my office with scraped legs,” she said.

Elton Jansen, sub-council chairman, said Ms Timm should direct complainants to the City’s claims department.

“Have them fill out the necessary paperwork,” he said.

Raphael Martin, manager of the sub-council, said the old traditional metal covers were being sold to the scrap yards for money.

“Theft of drain covers was a problem and the municipality has not yet come up with a solution to replace the covers,” he said.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste said the older manhole covers, made of cast iron, were being stolen, hammered down and sold off as scrap metal.

The polymer plastic covers have no scrap metal value and the ductile iron covers do not cost too much.

She said stolen or missing covers were replaced as soon as the matter was reported and logged onto their system.

Maintenance teams replace covers daily across the city.

The metal manhole covers are being replaced with polymer covers.

Ms Limberg said innovators were coming up with other new materials like polymer and composite regularly.

“These materials provide an alternative to iron and minimise the possibility of metal theft,” she said.

She said each product’s applicability is determined by durability, load-bearing capacity, life-span, and cost.

The City takes these factors into account when deciding on the suitability of the alternative materials.

A claim for damages can be
submitted by completing the public liability claim form and submitting all supporting documents,
in writing, to the City’s claims section.

The resident can also use the insurance claim form available on the City’s website.

Each claim is assessed on its own merits, which includes an assessment of whether there has been any negligence or omission on the City’s side.

Once the municipality has received the claimant’s formal correspondence, a reference number will be provided for all future liaison.

Residents can report the theft of stormwater and manhole covers to the City on 086 010 3089 or 080 065 6463.