Several City of Johannesburg entities and departments on Thursday March 3 descended on Ivory Park’s Extension 8 informal settlement, generally known as MaMtolo-Riverbend in Region A, to attend to service delivery challenges identified during recent high-profile visits by City politicians under the Bua le Sechaba (Talk to the Nation) campaign, led by Chairperson of Section 79 Committees Cllr Solly Mogase.
Extension 8 is an area where most of the problems were identified during visits late last year and early this year.
The challenges included blocked sewers, which resulted in streets being flooded with effluent; leaking taps; and illegal dumping. Led by Regional Director Abigail Ndlovu, officials and workers of the various City departments and municipal-owned entities turned the area into a hive of activity, clearing illegal dumping sites, fixing leaking taps, picking up litter in the streets and knocking on residents’ doors to hand out information leaflets and advise residents on how to save water and look after their infrastructure.
Johannesburg Water’s Eleanor Mavimbela said the main cause of sewer blockages was the dumping of foreign objects into the drains.
“Old TV sets, clothing items, as well as sheep’s carcasses, are found in the drains. These objects clog the drains, which leads them to overflow, especially during heavy rains,” said Mavimbela.
One satisfied resident was Ellen Mathebula, who lives in a floodline at the bottom of Extension 8.
“I’m relieved there is no longer a pond of sewage outside my house after Joburg Water workers came to clear blocked drains about three weeks ago,” said Mathebula, who also runs a hair salon adjacent to her home.
“My customers are also happy they no longer have to contend with the nauseating smell while having their hair done.”
There is, however, still an uncovered stormwater drain outside her house, in which three large stormwater pipes have been placed.
“I would be happier if this stormwater drain was properly covered because my one-year-old daughter always wants to jump in there to play.”
Regional Director Ndlovu said this and other stormwater drains would be attended to shortly.
“Concrete covers for these will be installed. Unfortunately, this will not be in this financial year but in the next. There is no budget for it this year,” she said.
Ndlovu said though the City was doing its best to address service delivery shortfalls it was equally important for it to educate residents to change their attitudes and the way they relate to the infrastructure.
“We've had nets put over the gulleys to prevent people from dumping foreign objects into the drains. This has helped to reduce blockages. We’ve also had the sewerage drains elevated and the diameters increased from 1.2m to 1.5m to better handle the pressure on the drains,” said Ndlovu.
She said ongoing public education was vital to ensure residents took ownership of the infrastructure.
“That’s why today we also have community workers going house to house sensitising residents to the need to appreciate the,” she said.
Ndlovu said illegal dumping could be addressed by the provision of rubbish bags to residents on pick-up days.
“But residents also need to monitor their areas to prevent others from dumping.”
Johannesburg Roads Agency’s Bertha Scheepers said Ivory Park was one of the areas that would benefit from the R291-million budget for the upgrading of gravel roads this financial year. This, she said, would enable Pikitup trucks to have easy access to collect waste.