Freedom Park residents regularly wake up to find their streets flood with sewage and human waste. And over the past few months this mess has even made its way onto their properties – and even into their homes.
But the City says only residents can prevent the ongoing floods by not discarding of fat and waste in drains. “It is disgusting and the smell awful,” said an angry Freedom Park resident Lillian Armoed, who claimed that waste once spewed from her shower.
According to residents the flood occurs at least once a week and runs from Chelsea and AC Milan streets, ending at Keeromsberg Street.
While it is common knowledge that the human waste is detrimental to their health, Ms Armoed, a pensioner, emphasised the health risks associated with the sewage overflow – particularly for children and senior citizens.
“There’s everything you can imagine coming out of the City sewerage. I was angry when I opened my shower a few months ago and crap came out of the shower. It was unbelievable,” Ms Armoed said.
The most recent flood occurred on Friday May 6.
Community worker Graham Newman said the area floods, the waste covers the roads and pavements, preventing residents from stepping out of their homes.
“The roads are so flooded, people struggle to get to work and school. They have to jump on stones and walk against the fencing. But in the end they end up wet and smelly.
“I have called the City of Cape Town numerous times about the problem. They send out workers, but all they do is water the place with a pipe and throw powder in people’s yards. But, the real problem is not being fixed,” he said.
The power Mr Newman referred to is a disinfectant used to cleanse areas affected by sewage spills.
When the Plainsman visited Freedom Park on Wednesday May 4, the area was flooded with sewage and waste water.
Charmaine Adams from Freedom Park said the sewage problems often went on for up to 10 hours before the City cleaned up.
“This is a health concern for all of us. We have to smell and look at popo for hours. Why are we getting quick fixes and why are they not looking at the pipes and drain system as a whole?” she asked.
“Now we have to endure the problem every week. We are not animals; we are humans,” she said.
Abigail Armoed who lives in Chelsea Street, said there are limited play areas for children so they play in the streets and in the yards.
“It’s a reality – our children are getting sick because of the sewage problem. The water and powder do not solve the problem because a few days later we have our streets full of sh*t again.
“We are demanding that the City look into the matter as hundreds of people live in the area,” she said.
Pastor Paul Saralina from the Pentecostal Upper Hall church in Keeromsberg Street in Tafelsig, said the flood ends in front of his church.
“The sewage overflow has been a problem for a while now. The human waste ends up at the front of the gate and parishioners have to walk through it. They then step into the church with dirty, smelly shoes onto the carpet.
“It doesn’t only affect us but residents too. It’s been a battle with the City, I have called them too and have received a response. They are blaming residents, saying that they are blocking (the sewerage system) with materials. But how does this happen weekly? Surely there is a way of solving the problem as the pipes and drains are faulty and broken.
“The City needs to service the community, take them seriously and assist them,” he said.
Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services, said the City is aware of the overflow problem, explaining that the flooding results from blockages in the system, caused mainly by fat and rags which have been disposed of into the sewers by residents.
“The only way to prevent these blockages occurring is for the residents to stop doing so. We ask that residents in the wider area please refrain from disposing of cooking fat and rags down their toilets and sinks as it is negatively affecting members of their community,” he said.
The City will clear blockages as they are reported.