In this township parents wear gumboots and carry their children through the sewage

Residents of Valencia in Addo say promises made in 2017 to fix the system were not kept

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Streams of sewage flow down the streets of Valencia in Addo. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

Parents in Valencia in Addo, Eastern Cape, wear gumboots and carry their children on their backs to the main road to avoid the streams of sewage running in the street.

The township is home to about 1,750 families, according to the local ward councillor. Homeowners say they were promised proper drains in 2017, but are still living with blocked drains and filthy water which streams through the streets and spills back through their toilets when the pump station gets blocked.

Some tip-toe on rocks to get in and out of their homes. Spaza shop owners say their bread sales are affected when sewage pools in front of their shops.

Zusiphe Jaji, the municipal spokesperson, apologised for the delays. She said that with the growing number of people in the area — attracted by citrus production — it’s difficult to cater for all of them. She said there were projects to increase the size of sewer pipes. “We have even introduced shifts to ensure that our pump station is manned 24/7.”

“But the biggest challenge that we are facing is that [people] throw everything from bricks, cables, dead animals and even fabric onto the sewer lines and stormwater drains. This is the main cause of the frequent blockages.”

“It is time for the communities to start protecting their own infrastructure,” she said.

The pump station is mannned round the clock, says the municipality, but the system is blocked when people throw rubbish into the sewerage system. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

When GroundUp visited the area on 30 December, busy Wallace Street was flooded with sewage. Residents say this has been going on for more than ten years and ward councillors come and go without fixing the problem.

“For three years our home was flooded with sewage,” says Ntombizodwa Stefaans. “Our toilet inside and the drain were overflowing. The sewage flooded the whole house including the kitchen. We reported the problem to the municipality several times but we couldn’t get help. At last they brought a truck to suck sewage from the drains on the streets and their pump station.”

“Out of our children’s support grants in October 2021 we had to hire one of the municipal workers for R1,000 to fix the sewage drain at our yard although it is a municipal responsibility to do that,” she said.

Her neighbour Nkosinathi Moyake says: “On wet days or during sewage spills we wear gumboots to catch a taxi to work or to take our children to school.”

Ward 3 councillor Xolani Jonas (ANC) said, “This problem is on top of my priority list because it also affects me. I live here in Wallace Street and we have been fighting for this for many years.”

“Residents want an upgraded sewage system with big pipes and construction of the roads that they were promised,” he said.

TOPICS:  Sanitation

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