Residents at end of their tethers

Sewage covers Glenwood’s Sycamore Road, following months of infrastructure neglect, affecting a little school that is otherwise making great strides. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/ African News Agency (ANA)

Sewage covers Glenwood’s Sycamore Road, following months of infrastructure neglect, affecting a little school that is otherwise making great strides. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 3, 2023


Impatience and frustration are escalating as Durban residents affected by infrastructure and service delivery woes reach the end of their tethers.

Louis Arde, principal of the 140-pupil Sycamore Academy in a small road with the same name in Glenwood, cannot believe that money is not available to immediately put an end to a sewage crisis that brings a smell right into the classrooms.

Spraying sewage from the road off shoes has become part of the morning ritual at Sycamore Academy. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/ African News Agency (ANA)

“I don’t understand how there can’t be a budget,” he said.

The area’s councillor Sakhile Mngadi said the entire sewerage line in Sycamore Road needed to be replaced and there was no budget left for this ahead of the July budget.

The quickest solution would be for the city to request surplus funds from various departments, which is a process that would take just as long, he said.

The ever-growing hole which started two weeks ago when the tarmac in Earl Haig Road, Morningside, collapsed under a taxi. Picture: Duncan Guy

Mngadi has asked the city to “find the money” to relieve the non-profit private primary school of a constant problem in the road related to drains.

“We are not aware of the allegations regarding funding to fix roads in the areas mentioned,” said eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Lindiwe Khuzwayo, stressing that flood damage cost an estimated R5.6 billion.

The image of a taxi sunk in the tarmac in Earl Haig Road that spread on social media two weeks ago. Picture: Supplied

First the road had to be blocked off at the intersection with Umbilo Road, causing parents to have to perform U-turns while dropping off and fetching their children.

Following that problem has been a never-ending issue of sewage leaks that have been repaired only to leak again, and potholes that have cost motorists their tyres.

Residents of Earl Haig Road and surrounds gather around one of the largest of the sinkholes that have developed in the road. Picture: Duncan Guy

Khuzwayo said a team had been dispatched to clear the blockage.

“Sewage leaks and blockages are caused by the presence of alien objects in the system. Our sewage system is not built to handle objects such as paper, plastic, or any other foreign materials that do not dissolve or soften.

“These blockages remain a challenge we are experiencing daily in our communities because people who dispose foreign objects into the system. We are appealing to all our residents to desist from doing that and use the correct materials for sanitation purposes.

“This matter has been prioritised. We apologise for the inconvenience,” she said.

The City also responded to a request for comment on a road collapse in Puntan’s Hill, Morningside, saying a work team had been sent to the site.

Two weeks ago, tarmac in Earl Haig Road gave way, causing a taxi to collapse into a sinkhole. When the driver of a heavy-duty truck tried to help retrieve the taxi, more roadway collapsed, residents said.

The holes have grown bigger, particularly after recent rains, with leaking water going under the road, making it more vulnerable to further collapse by the minute.

“I have reported that leak every six months and all they (eThekwini Municipality) do is replace the washers. Then it happens again … and it’s just patchwork,” said resident Nafisa Ballim.

Idrees Seedat said: “The leaks have eroded the sand under the tar. The road has no substrate. The catastrophe we had was waiting to happen. By the grace of God nobody was injured.”

Barricades were placed in the road, blocking access to some driveways. However, they are often removed by motorists who are then vulnerable to slipping into the sinkholes, or making new holes.

“Especially during load shedding when it’s so dark,” said resident Adele Rode.

Pieces of broken car parts – the bumper of a BMW and the radiator shield of a VW Polo – have started to litter the holes.

Ferrelli Sewpershad has had to repair his car at a cost of R3 500 and park it in the road, the weakening tarmac having spread under his gate and into his parking area.

Meanwhile, the pavement curb also appears to be sinking, residents said.

Old-time resident George Koster called the situation “unacceptable”.

“Especially as the next road, Valley View Road, is also full of leaks. The same thing could happen there,” he said.

Neetu Chetty pointed out that the long delay in anything being done about the road had a ripple effect on delays in refuse collection.

Amina Dawood said the community understood that there had been a shortage of asphalt and that it would take weeks, at best, to get hold of various people to bring about the speediest possible solution.

“We want them to come out here,” she stressed.

She said it would need the attention of all leaders, including the heads of departments, after hours if necessary, to see the dire situation.

Local ward councillor Ernest Smith said the roads department was scheduled to appoint a contractor to assist with repairs “in the next week or two”.

eThekwini Municipality’s Khuzwayo said: “We currently have teams working on Earl Haig Road in Morningside. Our Water and Sanitation crew has completed repairs to pipes.

“Our other teams are due to start backfilling with milling to make the area safe. The final repairs to the road will be done once this is completed.”

The Independent on Saturday