Tuesday, June 13, 2017

While 40 000 Blacks live in 'disgusting conditions' Cape Town keeps spending millions on a rubbish dump site closed 30 years ago

Dear Patricia de Lille, Mayor of Cape Town,
            While 40 000 Blacks live in what the Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane described as “The most disgusting conditions I have seen in my life” your Council continues to squander a fortune on the site of a rubbish dump closed more than 30 years ago.
            This scandal is compounded by the fact that the Blacks live in the township of Masiphumelele, just a few kilometers away from the controversial dump site next to the popular surfing beach of Witsands. So they don’t have far to go to see how futile the Council’s efforts have been to try and keep the sand in place in an uninhabited wasteland of wind swept dunes.  

            Year after year your Council spends hundreds of thousands on trying to keep the sand in place above what is left of the rubbish. Your officials appear to be obcessed with the notion that our winter rainy season will result in the plastic and other biodegradable material being washed out to sea. So it has just started repeating exactly what proved to be such a failure last year and like last year the first winter storm has flattened or covered kilometres of nets that were erected a little over a month ago.
            That’s another R200 000 or more that has been blown away on top of the R6-million that has already been wasted on this dump over the years. This is all money that could have been used far better to upgrade the facilities at Masi.

            To add to that a huge bulldozer has just spent two weeks moving the sand about and, of all things in the middle of the worst drought anyone can remember, digging a river bed for the small stream that sometimes runs down from the nearby mountain to the sea towards the end of the winter months. At a hire fee of something like R1500 an hour that’s R100 000 or more added to the amount so far rubbished on the dump.

            About this time last year when the stream was running a few centimeters deep and about 10 meters wide an excavator was brought in to deepen it.  But as the sand that covers the area is the finest of powders the trench that was dug just closed up within hours, making this expensive exercise as pointless as everything else. And as soon as the winter was over the strong winds that are endemic to the area closed the river bed so completely that there was no sign of it ever having been there.
            Now this will happen all over again, possibly even before the winter ends because the sand has been piled so steeply on the banks that it is asking to be blown straight back to where it came from. 
The Council stopped answering my questions last year when
I asked it to explain how the contracts were awarded
          The pictures below tell the sorry story of one failure after another.

February 2016 Sand being dumped on area of exposed rubbish. This
was done again within a couple of months after the first lot
was blown away

May 2016 Rubbish exposed after twice being covered with sand and
having nets erected on it to keep the sand in place.
January 2017 The nets have all been blown away & the rubbish is
once more exposed.

April 2017 - Nets erected again this time right on top of the 
rubbish whereas before it was first covered with sand
June 2017 What's left of the nets after the first big storm of the winter
            I can only assume that there must be some reason that is not immediately apparent that would explain why so much of our ratepayer’s money is being repeatedly spent on very expensive methods to keep the sand in place, when they clearly don’t work.

August 2016 Stream being deepened                                              
Jan 2017 It's as if there was never a stream there the sand has covered
it so completely
May 2017 The newly dug river bed for the stream that may never come

May 2017 The bulldozer used to make a new river bed & to move the
 sand around 

            This terrible waste just goes on and on with a reckless disregard for the fact that you and your Council are entrusted to spend our money wisely.
            I appeal to you once again to stop this right now.

            Jon, a Consumer Watchdog who only wishes his bite was a lot more effective than his bark.
*Note: The first five pictures are of one of the mostaffected areas. But there were other larger sections of the 19ha site further inland that also had nets trashed by the weather and on 14 June 2017 about half a dozen men were digging the nets up and re-erecting them. This was something that should have been done on an 
ongoing basis since the nets were first put up at the beginning of last year. But this was hardly ever done.

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