Clifton resident Cathy Lempereur said storm water drains were not cleaned for some time now, in their area, in spite of numerous complaints from residents. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)
Clifton resident Cathy Lempereur said storm water drains were not cleaned for some time now, in their area, in spite of numerous complaints from residents. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Lapsed stormwater clearing contract led to blocked drains in Cape Town

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jul 23, 2021

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Cape Town - The City’s decision not to renew the labour-intensive stormwater clearing contract has led to an increase in blocked drains and other water hazards in communities.

Stop CoCT founder Sandra Dickson said they had been inundated with complaints and pictures of stormwater drains overflowing in almost every area that the City service.

Dickson said many houses and areas that had functional infrastructure in the past were flooded, and that some people had insurance but were concerned that insurance premiums would be loaded if flooding of properties becomes a regular thing.

"The City seems to have huge problems with the management and renewal of contracts. Past examples are the MyCiTi bus route in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, refuse removal, the Waterfront desalination plant and many others," she said.

Dickson said the City's policies and dealings with contractors and ratepayers had reached unacceptable lows.

Clifton resident Cathy Lempereur said storm water drains were not cleaned for some time now, in their area, in spite of numerous complaints from residents.

"When winter rains came, a number of houses in Clifton were completely flooded with water, mud and debris as a direct result of clogged storm water drains," said Lempereur.

She said after many houses were completely flooded, the City did come out and truck loads of debris were removed from the stormwater drains.

She said they pay exorbitant rates on their properties, but the City failed to deliver an elementary service such as the necessary cleaning of storm water drains.

Good Party secretary-general Brett Herron said in March the City made its normal noises about its Annual Winter Readiness Programme focussing on the clearing of the stormwater systems, particularly in flood-prone areas.

Herron said what was different, this year was that the programme did not appear to actually exist.

In the past, the programme had included the cleaning of gullies, catchpits, pipes and ponds and, critically, clearing stormwater drains.

Herron said two weeks, ago it was brought to Good’s attention that a report had emerged at various sub-councils indicating that the Winter Readiness Programme could not be implemented due to “implementation constraints”.

"Good has submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to force the City to reveal its winter readiness plan," he said.

City Spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said the Transport Department performed annual catch pit cleaning as part of winter readiness, utilising a Labour Intensive Term Tender.

Tyhalibongo said, unfortunately, they have been without such a term tender since June 30, 2020, as the replacement term tender was subject to section 33 of the Municipal Finance Management Act process.

He said in its place, they have, however, opted to use their mechanical cleaning term tender – combination units/jet trucks, to attend to ‘hot spot’ areas rather than entire suburbs/areas due to the high costs involved and the time spent on those units as all catch pits have to be physically cleaned by hand before jetting could be done.

He said, furthermore, their road maintenance depots actively responded to instances of blocked drains and localised flooding as reported by affected residents.

"The department also appointed Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers to clean catchpits and stormwater drains throughout the City for a period of three months which ended June 30, 2021," said Tyhalibongo.

He said the maintenance of stormwater infrastructure by labour-intensive methods Term Tender would serve before Council by the end of July for consideration as the public participation process has already been completed.

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