Businesses going down the drain

Businesses nearby are affected by the smell.

Durban Road businesses and the City of Cape Town are still at loggerheads over overflowing drains.

Businesses say the problem persists, despite Northern News reporting on it earlier this year. (“A messy business,” May 16).
Northern News revisited the area recently and the unbearable stench was still there along with raw sewage spilling from the drains.
“The smell is terrible and it is here for the whole week,” said Abdul Ghare, who owns a clothing shop in front of one of the drains.
“No matter what day it is, we must just have this bad smell all the time, and it has been going on like this for almost two months. We cannot even eat our lunch sometimes because the smell is so bad.”
Several nearby shops owners had similar complaints.
“The smell is here when we open the shop and when we close it is still here,” said Moges Lemma, another clothing shop owner.
“I have been sick so many times over the last few moths that I cannot even remember. My whole family, who work here with me in the shop, have also been sick because of the smell. We do not even get customers to park outside our doors because they say the smell is bad, so of course, we do not get any walking into our shop as well.”
The shop owners say they haven’t seen any City sanitation staff trying to fix the problem.
Bradford Idas, the property manager for YE Khan Investments, which owns the Bellville Station Shopping Centre, said the problem was hurting business and he wanted the City to find a solution.
“Nobody wants to come here. Our business is at a standstill. We phone the City to come and fix the drains, but then all they do is just give us reference numbers and nothing gets done about it. If this was Tygervalley or Durbanville, then the issue would have been sorted out a long time ago.”
In our previous story, the City  blamed the problem on people putting things down the drains that don’t belong in them. And Xanthea Limberg, mayco member for water and waste, stuck to that response this time as well.
“The blocked drains are a recurring problem, not only in this are but across the city. In this instance, we experience the same problem with foreign objects constantly being dumped in the sewer reticulation network at Robert Sobukwe Road, on the line coming from Durban Road to Suid Street.
“It has been extremely challenging for teams to unblock the line due to vagrants, behind the taxi rank, throwing all kinds of objects into the manholes. When these objects get into the system it starts creating a restriction in the flow and fat starts to build-up in the sewer pipe creating a blockage along the sewer line.”
She said the blockage causing the problems in Durban Road had been attended on May 3.
“The cause was identified as fats in the line that restrict flow and result in overflows. The depot requested assistance from the pollution control department to investigate the fat generating shops around the area for compliance. As an interim measure, the line was treated with bio-enzymes to break the fat down and allow the sewer to flow freely.
Unfortunately, so long as businesses and residents continue to abuse the system, blockages/overflows will continue to occur. The City continuously campaigns against this behaviour and will continue to do so, but we would also call on businesses and residents to please help carry this message to their families and communities.”
Ms Limberg said the City had addressed each case reported by the Durban Road businesses.
“Some blockages that are causing the overflow are significant distances away. This may give the impression that the City is not responding, when in fact they are clearing the blockages further down the network.”