Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Sewage and South Africa

Methane bubbles popping on the river's surface, sewage pipes clogged with tampons, diapers and toilet paper, and the smell of faeces lingering in the air. These scenes are everyday realities for residents of Emfuleni - a municipality southwest of Johannesburg - as the breakdown of the area's pipes, pumps and wastewater treatment plants causes sewage to overflow into one of South Africa's largest rivers.
"This is a national crisis," said colonel Andries Mokoena Mahapa from his temporary office in the city of Vanderbijlpark near the Vaal River, where the South African army was dispatched to assist with sanitation repairs last year. "We have seen children playing in the raw sewage," he said. "Old people who can't buy groceries because they can't cross the river of excrement to get to the shops. These are only a few examples. It has been very alarming for us." He added the army's mandate until January would involve safeguarding infrastructure from theft while it waits for repair work to be taken over by the Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT), which is commissioned by the government.
Much of South Africa, a water-scarce country, suffers from poor water management, according to South African think tank the Institute for Security Studies.
"The government needs to urgently prioritise funding so that it can restore the lives and the dignity of the people of the Vaal," Mahapa said, citing "poor governance" as a major cause for the system's collapse.

No comments: