National 19.8.2016 07:08 am

War of words ends sewage spills in Sabie

Sewage leaking into the Sabie River. Picture: Lowvelder.

Sewage leaking into the Sabie River. Picture: Lowvelder.

Leaking pipes in Sabie have been successfully refurbished and the spillage problems have been resolved.

Sabie has been troubled by sewage problems since 2013, but finally things have been brought to a head, reports the Lowvelder.

Last week, strong words fell between the organised business and the municipality over sewage spills in the tourist town. The ongoing problem was recently resolved, but fears remain that it might rear its ugly head again,

Chairperson of the Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Captain Gwilym Rees and technical director for Thaba Chweu Municipality (TCM), Eugen Malungana, however, had a strong disagreement about the handling of the issue. Rees had to assure Malungana there was no “vendetta” in the way the chamber was trying to resolve the long-standing problem.

The confrontation about how the chamber involved the Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (IUCMA) and the media was as a consequence of persistent sewage problems that had not been adequately addressed, he said. He added, however, that it seemed to have served a purpose as the leaks have been attended to and a new working relationship was put in place.

One of the major problems dates back to 2013. The biggest leak started near Living Waters Church in Mount Anderson and ended at the Sabie River about a kilometre away. A big concern was that the raw sewage may find its way into the river.

The IUCMA has the power to take action against parties contravening the South African Water Act and had reached the point of invoking these. After the directive from IUCMA and a site visit by Rees and Malungana, the pipes were successfully refurbished, unblocked and the spillage problems resolved.

“Malungana inherited the problem during his relatively short tenure with TCM and took action to resolve it,” said Rees. Both agreed that the problem is partly due to ageing infrastructure, but this is not the core issue.

Malungana said that as part of a long-term solution, TCM had approved a budget of over R4-million to upgrade and replace pipelines in Sabie. “That indicates the state of readiness of TCM to address service delivery backlog in the Sabie area and our commitment towards service.”

Rees pointed out that, while he understood that the procurement advertisements for a contractor needs to be nationwide, TCM should bear in mind that the saving in site-establishment costs should be quite substantial if a local firm is employed.

“I see the R4-million, however, as a band-aid. What the town needs is a full assessment to solve this once and for all,” said Rees.

He reiterated that the chamber is looking forward to building a more positive relationship with TCM.

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Both parties will resume with technical meetings in Sabie once a month.

Caxton News Service

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