Rocklands residents stuck in a messy affair

LAUREN O’CONNOR-MAY

How do Kitty Hawk residents cross the road? By jumping over the sewage.

While this may sound like a joke, the raw sewage spilling into the Rocklands road is no laughing matter for residents, many of whom are elderly and battle to cross the dirty water flowing outside their houses.

“We’re like prisoners. We can’t get out of our own homes,” said Yusuf Abrahams. “I jump over the wall at the back if I want to go out.”

The waste water, which is mostly water from baths, showers, sinks and washing machine but also some from toilets, flows from homes in an underground pipe to the nearby waste water treatment works. Blockages in the pipe causes the water to flood into the street and residents’ homes. The rest of the flood flows into a nearby stormwater drain.

According to Chris Julies the problem reccurs every few weeks.

“I can’t use the toilet or bath because all the water comes back up,” he says.

Dennis Philander and his family have been living in Kitty Hawk for 35 years and says the problem is not new. It has happened sporadically since they first moved to the area but as of December 26 last year, it has been happening more frequently. The recent flooding has also taken longer to resolve he said.

“When you phone to report the problem then you must sit and listen to music all the time,” he said, complaining about being frequently put on hold. I don’t even want to eat because of the smell,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said the problem is caused by theft and dumping.

“Four steel manhole covers at crucial downstream points in the sewer network were stolen. These covers were then replaced with fibre cement covers, which have no scrap value, but these were also stolen. When these covers are removed, some residents dump rubble and general litter down the manhole, causing blockages which need to be cleared with a high-pressure hose. This can be a lengthy process,” he said.

“The only solution for this is for residents to immediately report members of the community who are stealing the manhole covers, and actively prevent the dumping of inappropriate materials into the sewer system. Residents should also report blockages to the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089.”