Sewer project on track despite thugs’ threats

Upgrades to the Milnerton bulk sewer system began in March of this year and are set to be completed in February 2025.

The R470 million City project to overhaul Milnerton’s creaky sewers is set to be completed by 2025, despite threats from extortionists, says mayor Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

The mayor visited Theo Marais Park last Wednesday to check on progress with the Milnerton bulk sewer upgrade, which started in March.

It includes micro tunnelling to build a new bulk sewer line almost 4km long.

The mayor said the project would see the construction of an entirely new bulk sewer in Montague Gardens using the micro-tunnelling technology. The Edgemead and Century City bulk sewers would be extended and connected to the new infrastructure.

“The first objective of the project is to increase capacity within the Montague sewer network. We also want to rehabilitate the existing Montague sewer system because it is currently in a terrible state,” said Mr Hill-Lewis.

It will be the longest tunnelling project in South Africa, according to Mr Hill-Lewis.

The work had not escaped the plague of extortion that had stalled or stopped similar projects across the city, he said.

“Unfortunately even this project has been subject to extortion attempts, but that has not been successful on the part of the criminals. We are doing what we can to stop these kinds of crimes. We have started the Enough is Enough campaign to get all our construction sites to immediately report any suspicious activity or any attempts at intimidation. So far it has worked because there have been some attempts but nothing successful.”

The extortion attempts had only stalled the sewer project for a few days, but they had shut down other City projects, he said.

“We still have not restarted construction on our biggest housing project in Delft because someone was killed on site there. We had a bridge project in Mitchell’s Plain paused because of extortion. And there have been others. Sadly jobs are held back, construction is held back and investment in our city is held back by this criminal activity.”

It was hard to know whether the criminals were part of rival construction companies or hired guns, or whether it was petty or organised crime, he said.

In June, the Brooklyn Kerb Improvement Project was cancelled after contractors became targets for extortion (“Brooklyn project halted over extortion claims,” Tabletalk, June 28).

Mayoral committee member for water and sanitation Dr Zahid Badroodien said the project included the installation of a sand trap and screening facility at the Koeberg Road pump station.

“Improving the Koeberg Road pump station’s operations will reduce the number of sewer spills into the Diep River and relieve environmental pressure.

“The City’s goal is to steadily restore the environmental health of the Milnerton Lagoon through a combination of infrastructure upgrades and dredging of the water body to remove pollution build-up in sediment,” he said.

Caroline Marx, Milnerton Central Residents’ Association’s environmental head, has welcomed the sewer upgrade.

“The Montague Gardens sewer upgrade is just one of a basket of projects aimed at protecting the communities health and the environment including the Milnerton Lagoon,” she said.

“In terms of criminals threatening these projects to extort money – they deprive workers of their right to earn a living in a safe workplace and deprive communities of clean healthy surroundings. Future job opportunities are affected and cause money to be spent on security, which could have been better spent on long-term projects.

“Anyone enabling or protecting these criminal parasites should understand the consequences of what they are doing.”

Water and sanitation mayoral committee member Dr Zahid Badroodien and mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis at the Milnerton bulk sewer upgrade at Theo Marais Park.