Overcome Heights in ‘unbearable’ situation

Gladys Dreyer at one of the puddles of sewage water in Rasta Street.

For several months residents of Overcome Heights have been forced to deal with the horrific stench of raw sewage.

The informal settlement’s main road, Rasta Street, and the surrounding streets have been flooded with green sewage-filled water and children could be seen playing and walking in the potentially hazardous water.

According to residents they had been pleading with the City of Cape Town to fix the blocked pipes (“Blockages causes floods”, Southern Mail, October 18).

Gladys Dreyer has been living in Overcome Heights for three years and said the stench is overwhelming. “The City came out once to fix the problem that I know of but the road always fills back up with sewer water. It is disgusting and we are living like animals in our own filth,” said Ms Dreyer.

She said when it rains the situation gets worse because the foul water runs down to other streets. “The water eventually turns green and we have to walk over or through it to get to
St Patrick Street in Seawinds where people get taxis. Toilets were damaged in a fire last year and the City has still not come to fix it. There is already too little toilets and several families are forced to share toilets and with several toilets not working, it creates more problems,” she said.

The toilets that were damaged by the fire have also been vandalised. Resident Mervyn Manuel lives opposite the toilets that were damaged in the fire and said he constantly has to worry about sewage water flowing into his home. “Even before the fire, the toilets would get blocked often. I had to throw down mats to absorb the water because I didn’t want it flowing into my home but it was right in front of my door.

“The situation is unbearable and I would really like the City to help us with this situation,” he said.

In the October 18 Southern Mail report, Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south, said the City’s water and sanitation department dispatched a team to address the complaint of blockages in Overcome Heights and that the area was disinfected.

He also said the cause for the frequent blockages was because informal structures were built 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,” Mr Andrews said then.

Southern Mail again sent enquiries to the City about the problem.

Xanthea Limberg, the City’s mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, said the City had liaised with the community regarding the repairs and maintenance.

Asked if the City has a long-term solution to the blocked sewerage pipes, she said: “The City has assessed and started the planning on redirecting the sewer lines in both Rasta Street as well as Liberty Street in order to eliminate the risk of continual blockages on these lines. In addition to the sewer diversion, we will continue to address the defective toilets which are continually being vandalised.”

She added that vandalism of toilets remains a huge challenge. “Fixing infrastructure which has been vandalised consistently draws resources away from where they can be better used, for instance to develop new infrastructure,” she said.

Asked if there are any plans to re-block the area, Ms Limberg said it is not currently possible. “A huge portion of the settlement is situated on the area which has been demarcated for the future extension of the R300 highway road reserve. The City has hosted a number of meetings with the community leadership in order to assist them. The City also offered to relocate the affected parties to Atlantis but the community declined,” she said.

Residents can report vandalism
of the City’s water and sanitation infrastructure to the City’s call
centre on 0860 103 089, via SMS to 3133 or via WhatsApp to 063 407 3699.