Blockage causes floods

Rasta Street in Overcome Heights is flooded whenever it rains.

Residents of Overcome Heights informal settlement, in Lavender Hill, had to plead for weeks for a sewerage pipe in Rasta Street to be unblocked.

The area had been left flooded by foul stagnating water.

Aubrey Robinson, a community leader, said on Sunday October 8 he responded to a Facebook request for assistance from Gladys Dreyer about sewage spilling into Rasta and surrounding streets.

The problem was reported to the City by Ms Dreyer and another resident.

Ms Dreyer said Rasta Street was the main road used by residents to get to St Patrick Street, for public transport.

“When it rains, it forms puddles that we have to walk through to get to the taxi to go to work. The water has turned green already and it smells after laying there for weeks. Our kids need to go to school through these puddles and the younger kids are playing in the dirty water.”

She said the toilets were also not fixed after a fire last year which melted two of the toilet doors shut.

“The water overflows from the toilets because of the blockage. An elderly man who lives next to a toilet threw a mat over it. This is what we are forced to do to survive. We can’t live this way anymore. We are people, not animals,” said Ms Dreyer.

David Kleinveldt also said he had been trying to get the City’s attention for a while, but “it is disgusting that our pleas fall on deaf ears”.

He said: “We have called on other non-profit organisations who tried to help but they can’t do anything. We spoke to Ms Gordon but nothing has been fixed. Our main concern now is the health issue, where children are playing in the dirty water which can lead to worms and other illnesses. Kids are kids and they put their dirty fingers in their mouths.”

Mr Kleinveldt said if the City can’t fix issues in the street, they must find another location for the residents to move to.

Southern Mail has written several stories on this issue and residents have been struggling with floods for years because homes have been built on a wetland.

The situation deteriorated in 2014 when road upgrades meant to relieve the flooding actually made it worse (“Overcome Heights ‘fixed’ ground worsens floods”, Southern Mail, August 13 2014).

Previous ward councillor Shaun August had confirmed that Overcome Heights was built on a wetland (“Residents hope to ‘overcome’ flooding”, Southern Mail, June 10 2015).

In that story, Mr August said: “We have had meetings and we are working on a technical plan to fix the problem. We will have another meeting to discuss this with residents.”

Southern Mail asked the City if there is any new developments to fix the drainage problem.

Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south, said: “The City’s Water and Sanitation Department dispatched a team to address the latest complaint of blockages in Overcome Heights and can confirm that the blockage is being attended to and the area has been disinfect-
ed. “The cause of continual blockages in Rasta Street is due to residents building on top of the sewer pipe. This prevents waste from freely running into the sewer line. In addition, vandalism of services has contributed to this recurring problem.”

However, Ms Dreyer said on Tuesday October 17, shortly before the story went to print, that no one from the City had come to fix the blockage in Rasta Street.