Thaba Chweu Drowning in its Own Sewage

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.

The Thaba Chweu local municipality is fast becoming the epitome of failed governance caused by maladministration and ineptitude, as one after the other, crucial services are not being delivered, and the administration not able to perform even the most basic of functions.

Yet another casualty in the long list of failures is the municipality’s inability to operate and maintain the sewerage network. Local DA councillors are inundated with calls from angry residents from Lydenburg, Sabie and Graskop, complaining about raw sewage in the streets and on the pavements, and who have to deal with the mess and the stench every day.

In Lydenburg, numerous pump stations have stopped running, resulting in raw sewage flowing into the Dorps River from at least three locations. The possible health hazard this holds for the communities of Skhila and Shushumela are immense, as these impoverished people have no other alternative but to use water from the river.

Furthermore, effluent from the sewage pump station at the entrance to Extension 2 runs into and along the main Mashishing/Lydenburg road, before draining into the river. Residents have to deal with the constant stench, while pedestrians and commuters have to walk or drive through raw sewage to get to and from work.

The DA has on numerous occasions attempted to interact with the local administration, only to have all correspondence and all attempts at making appointments with the municipal manager ignored. Out of sheer desperation, our councillors have resorted to engaging technical staff while performing their daily duties, only to be told that no funds seem to be available for spare parts to repair and maintain the sewerage reticulation system.

This municipality is in desperate need for an intervention, yet nothing seems to come of cooperative governance MEC Madala Masuku’s reassurances that struggling municipalities will be supported. While rather unlikely, it may be possible that MEC Masuku only learns of problems in municipalities when informed by the DA.

This being the case, the DA will submit written questions to MEC Masuku and ask him to explain why sewage pumps in Thaba Chweu aren’t working, and why regular maintenance schedules are not followed. We will also ask MEC Masuku why finances aren’t available for spare parts, and why the municipality did not request assistance from the department.

In addition, I will, through my colleagues at parliament, submit a letter of complaint with the minister of water affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, calling on her department to investigate whether the Thaba Chweu Local Municipality is wilfully and intentionally polluting the various water systems, and the possible health hazards it may hold.

Residents of Thaba Chweu have been suffering under the yoke of maladministration and incompetence for too long, and the DA will continue in its efforts to bring ordinary people effective local government.

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