Sewage still seeps through Kariega streets and the mayor is nowhere to be seen

Promises made in July have not been kept

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Streets in Peace Village, Kariega, are still filled with seeping sewage, months after promises were made to fix them. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

  • The streets which Kariega Mayor Gary van Niekerk promised to clean up in July are still running with sewage.
  • In July angry Peace Village residents diverted a convoy of municipal councillors, forcing them to walk through the dirty streets.
  • Soon after, the mayor visited the area and promised to return and to fix the problem.
  • But residents say he has not been back and the streets are dirtier than ever.

The filthy streets in Kariega where residents forced Nelson Mandela Bay councillors to walk through sewage in July are still filthy. Not a single drain has been fixed, despite the promises of Mayor Gary van Niekerk.

On 21 July, five councillors who had come to deliver presents for Mandela Day to people in Peace Village, Kariega, were forced by angry residents to walk through stinking sewage. Residents stormed out of their houses, blew whistles and burnt tyres. They diverted the councillors’ convoy through filthy Sakhwatsha Street.

Sakhwatsha Street is one of several in the area which have been in a mess for years, with open drains, overflowing sewage, trenches, broken bottles and overgrown grass.

A few days later, Mayor Gary van Niekerk visited the area and promised residents that he would take action. He said he would be back on 15 August to monitor progress fixing the sewage problem and the problem would be fixed by 15 November.

But residents say the mayor has not been back and the sewage spills are worse than ever.

They say sewage is seeping into the yards and inside more than 40 houses in Peace Village.

“We are treated like fools. When we complain, they take it personally,” said resident Ntombizodwa Noyila, who is one of four leaders chosen to work with the mayor’s office on the problem.

She said, “Mayor Gary van Niekerk visited our area in July, and promised to have leaks fixed step by step, but nothing has happened. Last week, three school vehicles got stuck on Sakhwatsha Street.”

“My own house has a pool of water surrounding it from underground. This is going to lead to a protest again if these promises are not fulfilled,” she said.

Ntombizodwa Noyila says water surrounds her house. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Resident Cynthia Bhongo, whose yard and house have been plagued by sewage for years, said she no longer hoped for a solution.

She said she was delighted when she got the keys to her RDP house in 2013. But she soon noticed the problem. “This area already had a pool of stinking sewage running down streets at that time … but I only realised how serious it was when I saw it bubbling in my sink in the kitchen and bathroom. To date, I am still breathing sewage inside my house, and I can’t even open windows, because there is also a stench coming from my street.”

The mayor did not respond to questions asked on Tuesday morning. His automated WhatsApp response referred GroundUp to Shrina du Plessis, who in turn referred us to municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron. Questions sent to Baron on Tuesday morning had not been answered by the time of publication.

TOPICS:  Local government Sanitation

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