Rubbish hasn’t been collected for weeks in parts of Gqeberha

“We couldn’t enjoy Christmas lunch under these smelly conditions”

By Mkhuseli Sizani

10 January 2023

Piles of rubbish accumulate next to R75 Uitenhage Road in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape. Refuse has not been collected for weeks in parts of the metro but the municipality says it is working to resolve the problem. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

Piles of uncollected rubbish and overflowing sewage have been strewn across the streets of Nelson Mandela Bay since the end of November.

The municipality says challenges with its new digital payment system have delayed petrol purchases for council trucks.

Meanwhile, thousands of residents have been complaining about the filth. GroundUp recently visited Govan Mbeki township near the R75 Uitenhage Road and Old Uitenhage Road where rubbish has been piling up. Many people have resorted to emptying their refuse bins along the busy roads and burning the rubbish.

Nothandekile Dipa from Govan Mbeki said his rubbish had not been collected for four weeks. “Our grandchildren’s disposable nappies are in my two wheelie bins and the smell is unbearable. The flies buzz when it’s very hot.”

He said that during the festive season, most household’s bins get very full weekly. “This municipality is very disappointing. We couldn’t enjoy Christmas lunch under these smelly conditions. We had to ask our children to go and empty these bins in open fields,” he said.

Sipho Ntsondwa, chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Bay Informal Settlements Forum, said rubbish had not been collected in Westville since November. “We have a problem with rats because of illegal dumping. This is made even worse because there is rubbish all over the place. We appeal to our municipality to quickly resolve this problem. Our children are playing in these illegal dumpsites,” he said.

Nothembile Solwandle said he drain outside her home had been blocked since September. “I have lost hope in this municipality. On hot summer days the pigs bath in that sewage. When we ask municipal workers why our drains are not fixed they tell us that the municipality has no fuel.”

A waste management worker told GroundUp that they had not been able to resolve drain blockages in December because the municipal trucks had no fuel. “There is a huge backlog of unattended drains.”

Municipal spokesperson Mamela Ndamase said there had been challenges with the fleet management system in December. “We migrated to a new smart digital fuel management system, launched in September, aimed at mitigating fuel theft, fraud, abuse and limited controls of the previous system.”

“There are teething challenges in its early development rollout stages. We are working with a service provider in this regard.”

Ndamase said the council was dealing with a backlog of refuse collection and illegal dumpsite clearing. She did not respond to our questions about overflowing sewage drains.