Dumping remains a challenge

Community members taking part in a clean-up along Mosselbank River last week Saturday.

Illegal dumping in and around Fisantekraal, mainly along the Mosselbank River, remains a big problem, despite efforts to tackle the problem.

Garden Cities – the developer of Greenville, the new suburb along the edge of the Mosselbank River — started clean-up campaigns at the new development last year.

Those led to the establishment of the Mosselbank River Conservation Team (MRCT) late last year (“Residents keep river clean,” Northern News, January 18).

The MRCT, which has been promoting environmental education in Fisantekraal, hopes to follow in the footsteps of the Friends Of the Liesbeek and become a self-sustaining community organisation caring for the Mosselbank River and the wetlands of Fisantekraal.

But despite this, and efforts to educate the greater Fisantekraal community, there is still a long way to go, according to Garden Cities group manager for engineering and planning, Renier Smith.

“I don’t think people realise the importance of keeping the river clean and what it means not just for the area but the environment as a whole,” he said.

Last year, Ward 105 councillor Ruan Beneke tabled a motion for a drop-off site in the area, saying that illegal dumping and waste had become an “enormous” problem.

Mr Beneke said the closest drop-off facility was about 8km away in Kraaifontein, and Fisantekraal residents did not have the means to transport waste to this site.

“Dumping still remains a major concern in Fisantekraal. It must be said that through various educational programmes, law enforcement and clean-up operations, Fisantekraal is in a better state than previously.

“However, I still don’t think we have reached the point whereby the larger community takes responsibility for the cleanliness in the area and keeps those who don’t, accountable for their actions,” he said.

Mr Beneke said land on the corner of Station Road and Boy Briers Drive was the biggest problem area for dumping.

Danielle Sterrenberg, of Garden Cities, oversees the monthly clean-ups. Plastic bottles made up most of the 40-odd bags of waste they collected on monthly Saturday clean-ups. And most of that, she said, came from the river.

“We would clean up on Saturday, and, by Sunday, the area would be filled with waste again.”

Sometimes they had seen people going to the area to dump, but they would simply deny it if confronted.

Mr Beneke said spaza shops and residents who took dumping to be a “norm” were a big part of the problem.

“Some of the spaza shops would happily empty their bins when full, instead of paying someone for collection, outside of the normal collection days. Some households also don’t put out their bins on collection days and just empty this somewhere if full.

“Some residents also see dumping as job creation, since the City employs workers through its Expanded Public Works Programme for clean-up operations. The major reason is that many people see dumping as the norm, because it was never any different,” he said.

Mr Beneke said the proposed drop-off would address those issues, as it offered an alternative, and people would be paid for their refuse.

“This would create a situation whereby others collect refuse, and so automatically clean up the area. People just dumping their bin, will become more ‘noticeable’ among other community members, and will hopefully be taken to task about their behaviour,” he said.

Mr Smith said Garden Cities was in talks with the City to have a container placed close to the river that could be used by the conservation team to store equipment and run their operations from.

Garden Cities is now seeking funding from various sources to buy proper cleaning gear and equipment for the MRCT and to give them more training.

They were taking a phased approach, starting with the first 20 hectares of the river.

“We are ‘testing the waters’ looking at what works and what doesn’t and looking how we can use this in the next phase,” he said.

Mr Beneke thanked the MRCT for their work, saying they changing the hearts of many Fisantekraal residents.