Water is on everyone’s minds at the moment, but in a few streets in Wallacedene it’s at the heart of a very different concern.
Elton Swartz stays in Maphandle Street in Phase 9, and he says the large puddles of stagnant water pooling outside his home are making him sick. “I’m struggling to breathe,” Mr Swartz said.
The grey water is thrown into the street by residents, but Mr Swartz is not angry at his neighbours for disposing of the water in this way, because, he said, they had no choice.
Mr Swartz’s house was among the first to be built in the scheme. It has no bath, shower or bathroom basin. The toilet and kitchen are next to each other and the kitchen basin’s narrow outlet pipe runs into the toilet’s outlet pipe.
“Ons kan maar ’n paar skottelgoedtjies was in die bak, maar dan ruik dit soos die toilet,” Mr Swartz said.
The water drains slowly through the pipes, which clog frequently and yards with are flooded sewage and grey water. Mr Swartz said that was why residents preferred to empty buckets and tubs into the street.
Building and plumbing styles varied in the scheme, Mr Swartz said, but several homes had the same basic plumbing system as his.
Sometimes Mr Swartz tries to get rid of the smell by opening the pipe outside and cleaning it with a stick and a sponge.
Anneline Crox also stays in Maphandle Street and she said the problem was worse in summer because the cloying heat seemed to hold the stench from the puddles in the air.
“Die mense gooi die water in die pad uit dan verdam dit voor die deure,” she said.
According to the City’s 2007-2008 capital budget implementation plan, R17.25 million was set aside for the Phase 9 scheme when it was built.
Northern News asked the City whether any remedial works had been planned for the area, but we did not get an answer by the time of going to press.
Phase 9 is part of Ward 6 councillor Simpiwe Nonkeyizana’s constituency, but he said the plumbing problems there had not been brought to his attention.
“Whenever such problems come to my attention, I get the service provider to address it,” he said.
He said there were usually several contractors for schemes such as Wallacedene.
“Some are fly-by-night and some are credible. I would need to identify who was the main supplier.”
He encouraged residents to contact him if they had similar problems.
“We need to be abreast of such things so that we don’t talk past each other. I will do a follow up on this.”