Vandalism, illegal electricity connections add to sewage woes in Bloekombos

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste, says land grabs and illegal electricity connections to a nearby pump station are contributing to sewage spills in Swellini Street.

Vandalism and illegal electricity connections to a transformer in the Bloekombos sewerage pump station, coupled with land invasions, are contributing to sewage spills in Bloekombos.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste, told the Northern News that a transformer in the Swellini Street pump station had been damaged in May by illegal connections.

Eskom had yet to disconnect illegal connections and reconnect the pump station, Ms Limberg said.

“Most of the sewerage system works on gravity, but in cases where the sewage must flow uphill, pump stations maintain the flow to the wastewater treatment plants.

“Illegal electricity connections can damage the power supply. Currently, a generator is being utilised to power the facility on 24-hour basis. This is very costly due to fuel,” Ms Limberg said.

Meanwhile, land invaders’ shacks in Swellini Street were blocking access to city workers wanting to clear blocked drains, she said, adding that these issues, along with the heavy rains, had led to sewage spills in the area.

Ms Limberg said the transformer had been damaged repeatedly.

“The transformer was most recently replaced in May, but the illegal connections reoccurred, and the pump station was broken into and damaged again shortly afterwards,” she said.

The City was working around the clock to protect infrastructure, clear sewer blockages and clean sewage spills, she said. “However, because of the impact of land invasions on services in the area, communities need to pay special attention to ensuring sewage infrastructure is not damaged.”

The Northern News has previously reported on the area’s decrepit municipal drainage system, which has caused flooding problems on several roads.

In a Sub-council 2 meeting on Wednesday May 9, City transport and roads official Mahmood Achmat said a tender had been issued to clear the stormwater system in parts of Kraaifontein, including Swellini Street in Bloekombos.

“We have deployed some resources, but the problem (of flooding) will not be solved if the sewer problems are not addressed,” he said.

DA Ward 8 councillor Marian Niewoudt pressed Mr Achmat on how the problem would be addressed, while her colleague, DA Ward 7 councillor Grant Twigg, asked who was responsible for doing the repairs.

Sub-council manager Amelia van Rhyn said the problem was compounded by the presence of illegal settlements in Section 19 in Bloekombos.

“It’s a cumbersome problem. But the water and sanitation officials have indicated that if they’re able to clean that section in Section 19, then Swellini Street will not have that problem,” Ms Van Rhyn said.

She added that the stormwater system in Bloekombos could not cope and there were overflows into Section 19.

Mr Twigg recommended that Ms Van Rhyn write to city manager Lungelo Mbandazayo to request that a task team be set up to tackle the stormwater crisis.