Coast KZN

09 Nov 2021

Raw sewage remains an unsolved problem in the Durban Harbour as the eThekwini Municipality faces a sewage crisis

Thobeka Ngema (Daily New: IOL) Picture: Screenshot. The area where the sewage enters the Durban Harbour..

DURBAN – People who frequent the Durban Harbour have been greeted by the stench of sewage and it is alleged this has been going on for several months yet nothing has been done about it.

A video was also recently shared on social media platform YouTube showing the state of the harbour. According to the video’s description, the “stench is horrific to say the least, let alone the eyesore and aftermath re: health of the public and environment”. It said that several complaints were escalated with the municipalities and political parties by members of the public but with no feedback or outcome.

Avid angler Veer Hiramun said at least once a week he was at the harbour. Hiramun said the sewage issue had been going on for months and sometimes it was worse than other times, it all depended on the tide. It is worse after rains. Pollutants levels in general are at an all-time high as waters wash into the harbour.

“When it is low tide, all the muck is all over the place where yachts and boats are parked. From three months ago and last week, it’s the same. The water is discoloured and it makes you want to puke,” Hiramun said.

 Picture: Supplied

He said the most affected area was where people entered the harbour. He also said many people tried to call the eThekwini Municipality and get help but their calls fell on deaf ears. Several people asked for help from a political party who are trying to assist now.

“I made the posts because I wanted to create an awareness and an uproar about it. We don’t know how to sort it out and a lot of people catch fish to eat. They could get sick because the fish is contaminated.”

“The fish are also dying,” Hiramun said.

He added that in some areas, recreational areas were closed immediately and sorted out when there was a sewage spill, but the same was not done at the harbour. “That is why I went to social media,” Hiramun said.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela agreed that some of the city’s pump stations happened to malfunction.

“This is largely as a result of vandalism and unrelenting load shedding. Moving from one loading stage to the next happened to occur haphazardly, leaving us with a very small room to shut down some of the stations to avoid them discharging raw sewage into the port,” Mayisela said.

He said they were currently doing their assessment and the water was still safe to be used, however in the event that the situation gets out of hand, they will alert the public.

“It should be noted that this is the situation that is beyond our control, which we appeal to the public to work with us and fully understand the inconvenience it is causing. The city has processes that are currently underway to look into procuring generators to all its over 200 pump stations. Each generator costs in excess of R2 million,” Mayisela said.

He added that the city was working around the clock to normalise the situation and there was no need to panic.

Economic Development and Environmental Affairs DA spokesperson, Heinz de Boer, said on Monday that with the Durban Harbour again awash with raw sewage, questions by the DA in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature revealed that the eThekwini Municipality was the biggest polluter in the province. De Boer said a reply from EDTEA MEC Ravi Pillay revealed that of the 34 compliance notices and directives issued under the National Environmental Management Act, eThekwini has received 12 warnings.

He said of those, 12 were related to crumbling municipal infrastructure.

He said EDTEA officials said “the majority of these S28 notices were in relation to sewer spillages resulting from malfunctioning of sewer pump stations. The list of offenders includes ongoing issues at the Blackburn Pump Station, Paradise Valley Sewage, Isipingo River, Umbilo Canal and Umgeni River.”

“Certainly, they have laid waste to the tourism and economic development potential of the city. The Golden Mile, Blue Lagoon, and all major tourism hotspots are contaminated – and put up a lacklustre fight against other tourism offerings, both locally and abroad,” De Boer said.

He added that KZN was a province with tourism and massive job creation potential that lies undeveloped. “How the managers of defaulting municipal departments keep their jobs is beyond comprehension. Poor municipal management can no longer be allowed to ruin the lives of so many who are languishing under a blanket of unemployment.”