Let’s change the littering culture, says mayor

City staff worked to fix a sewage spill during mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis’s visit to Joe Slovo last week.

There is a culture of littering across the city that needs to change, says mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

He was speaking during his visit to Joe Slovo last week, when he joined municipal sanitation workers on a clean-up that moved from Freedom Way to Democracy Way.

Along the way, the mayor told Tabletalk that he hopes campaigns like this will change the way some people see their communities.

“Curing the city of its sewage and pollution problems won’t be something done overnight. It will be a long process but with the help of community members, we can do it much quicker,” he said.

“In Cape Town, there is a culture of littering that needs to change. People aren’t taking much pride in their communities. This is why during the clean-up campaigns, I do as much talking to residents as I do cleaning. Because I don’t want them just to see someone cleaning for them. I want to be constantly communicating that we need the residents’ help on this.”

The City hired 1600 community cleaners, but they would not be enough if residents themselves did not play their part, he said.

Mr Hill-Lewis again admitted that sewers were a major problem. He said R30 million had been spent on new “jet vac” trucks with plans to get five more such trucks with the addition of grabber trucks (“New mayor vows to tackle city’s sewage woes,” Tabletalk, November 24, 2021).

Blaming the Milky Way pump station for many of the sewerage problems in Joe Slovo and Phoenix, he vowed to upgrade it and other pump stations across the city by “increasing investment and resources dramatically”.

Ward 4 councillor Anthony Benadie picks up litter while mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis gets to grips with a rake in Joe Slovo last week.

Ward 4 councillor Anthony Benadie joined the mayor on the clean-up and other City staff used a jet vac truck to clear a sewage spill on the corner of Democracy Way and Freedom Way.

Mr Benadie said illegal dumping, overcrowding and illegal buildings in Joe Slovo aggravated sewer blockages.

“Today at Democracy Way they are busy repairing, reconstructing and reinstalling the main sewer line. That’s the sewer line that has to stop some of the issues faced at the lagoon. The downside of what’s happening is that the currently existing pipeline keeps spilling over and over. The old pipeline is spilling but right next to it there is the new line which isn’t live yet. So the spills just fill up the holes for the new pipeline and cause setbacks,” he said.

Mr Benadie said he had done clean-ups in Milnerton, Summer Greens and Sunset Beach and had noted a growing pride that people were showing in their neighbourhoods.

“This is what we would like to promote here in Joe Slovo as well. We need to promote people taking pride in their area. If you’re not proud of your community and where you live, why would you care about throwing rubbish on the floor?”

Joe Slovo community leader Mzimkhulu Sopeni said he understood that people should take pride in their community, but that was hard to do in an area that was so overcrowded.

“Pointing fingers won’t help because the upstanding residents can also turn around and say that the City has allowed this area to become what it is. The place is way too overcrowded. Yes, the City provides people with blue refuse bags, but where are all these people meant to dump their rubbish?

“We don’t have a nearby designated dumping site. We also have many people building flats and constructing like 14 rooms, but there will only be one bin on that property. Who is approving all of these building plans? These are the things we need to look into.”

Municipal services were very visible in the area during the mayor’s visit, but when residents called officials for action they were far less responsive, he said.

“Just because the mayor is here today, we’ve seen around 12 trucks in the area. This isn’t a regular occurrence because when we call for these services, we are told the City has a limited amount of trucks and other resources. But when officials like the mayor are here, these resources are always available.”

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis chats to City truck driver Herbert Lewis during last week’s clean-up.