Pipe repairs a priority in poor areas, says mayor

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis visited this site in Milnerton where new sewer pipes were being installed.

More than 29km of old sewer pipes have been replaced in the past year across Cape Town, beating a City target by 3km, and repairs are a priority in poor, cramped neighbourhoods, says mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis

In July last year, the City had set itself the target of replacing 26km of old sewer pipes – some of them dating back to the apartheid era – by June this year, said Mr Hill-Lewis.

He was speaking on Wednesday July 13 during a visit to Joe Slovo Park in Milnerton, where municipal workers were installing new sewer pipes in Democracy Way.

In September last year, mayoral committee member for urban waste management Grant Twigg, in his capacity as Ward 7 councillor, tabled an exigency motion in a Sub-council 2 meeting, where he laid bare troubles with old water and sewer pipes in his area.

Mr Twigg called for a complete, citywide overhaul of the water and sewer pipes. The exigency motion was forwarded to council and all sub-councils for consideration.

Speaking to Tabletalk this week, Mr Twigg said: “I’m happy to see some (sewer pipes) replacements happening. There are more replacements in the pipeline.”

Milnerton Residents’ Association secretary Liete van der Eems said they were pleased with the sewer-pipe replacements and were confident the overhaul would make a meaningful and long-term difference in addressing some of the sewage issues confronting several Milnerton communities.

“It’s encouraging to see promises being delivered on, and we are looking forward to more of these important projects in the future,” Ms Van der Eems said.

By time of publication, the City had not responded to a query about just how many metres of sewer pipe had been replaced in Milnerton and Dunoon.

Mr Hill-Lewis said the City had prioritised sewer infrastructure investment in its budget for the current financial year.

“The City will be investing R150 million on sewer-pipe replacements this 2022/2023 financial year, which almost doubles the distance covered from 29 000 metres to 50 000 metres in one year,” he said.

Joe Slovo Park, near Milnerton, which is prone to heavy sewer spills, would benefit immensely from the sewer-pipe replacement project, he said.

“This is part of the City’s commitment in the coming years to hugely up-scale the amounts of sewer replacements and upgrades we will be doing,” he said, adding that 29km of sewer pipes had been replaced across Cape Town.

The City was planning 150km of sewer-pipe replacements and upgrades in coming years, he said.

“‘A key focus of this new administration is on better sewer infrastructure across the city, particularly in poor neighbourhoods, where rapid densification has put huge pressure on our underground sewer network.”

Mayoral committee member for water Dr Zahid Badroodien said that based on approved budgets of past financial years, the average sewer-pipe replacement per year was between 25km and 28km.

The City’s budget would allow it to up the ante on sewer-pipe replacement, he said.

Muizenberg, Glencairn, Kalkfontein, Khayelitsha, Gordon’s Bay, Eerste River, Kraaifontein, Wallacedene, Joe Slovo, Milnerton, Goodwood, Philippi, Gugulethu, Mitchell’s Plain, Kuyasa, Delft, Bellville, Dunoon, Milnerton, Joe Slovo/Phoenix, Makhaza, Cape Flats and Sweet Home, had benefited from the pipe replacements in the past financial year, he said.

Pipe replacements for this financial year would take place in Tokai, Dennedal, Sweet Valley, Bergvliet, Mfuleni, Delft, Khayelitsha, Strand, Wesbank, Kraaifontein, Bellville, Durbanville, Atlantis, Century City, Dunoon, Wallacedene, Milnerton, Gugulethu, Philippi, Maitland, Epping, Langa and Uitsig.

“We are spending R65m more this year, in comparison to last year, on sewer-pipe replacements. Cape Town has more than nine million meters of sewer pipeline servicing properties across the city,” said Dr Badroodien. “This is about the distance from Cape Town to France by aeroplane.”

Over the past decade, the City had spent more than R1 billion on replacing more than 230km of pipeline across Cape Town, he said.