Durban – It was a “stinking” Christmas for some Westville residents who had to bear the effects of a raw sewage “waterfall” that gushed from a burst underground pipe.
Relief eventually came on Saturday, when the eThekwini Municipality deployed workmen to fix the problem.
But the lingering odour from sewage deposits continues to “hurt their nostrils”, the residents complained.
A sewer mainline runs through Robert Baker’s home on Aberfeldy Road, in Ward 92.
Two weeks ago sewage began to gush out of the line, near the top end of Baker’s property.
It poured constantly for a week, until municipal workmen, after an anaemic response from the council, attended to the problem.
Baker and others in his neighbourhood thought the worst was over but things got “horrible”, two days before Christmas.
Raw sewage began to cascade from another point, with Baker and his family, which includes children aged 3, 5 and 8, being most affected by the inordinate flow.
“It has been very frustrating time for me and other residents and I had to bear the brunt of the problem,” said Baker.
When the first leakage happened, Baker thought it was water from a burst pipe and he began to dig up the ground to find the leak.
He only realised that he had handled raw sewage when he got seriously ill two days later.
“I had severe diarrhoea and my kidneys were failing. My family feared I would die. But I’m recovering now.”
Baker said it had been a horrible time for him and his family.
“The children were forced to remain indoors and I had planned to have family at my home for Christmas, but I had to cancel that arrangement.”
A neighbour, Conrad Manning, said he also had visitors for Christmas and went through the day with his heart in his mouth.
“It was a real dampener,” said Manning, who also lodged a number of complaints with the municipality about the problem in the area, but all he got was automated responses.
Fed up with the municipality’s handling of the situation and talking to a machine, Manning drove to a municipal office in Pinetown to voice his discomfort.
“It was a miracle that I managed to get an engineer on duty who quickly arranged a team to attend to the leak.”
Manning said: “It was shoddy service that we were left to endure such conditions for days. I’m shocked at the lacklustre and anaemic response from the municipality.”
Neighbouring Ward 18 councillor Melanie Brautheseth said a “blockage” in the sewer line was the root of the problem.
“It is unfortunate what had happened on Aberfeldy Road. Recently, municipal officials explained how blockages occur.”
Brautheseth said apart from sand and debris, a storm dumped nappies and sanitary towels and they were a big problem.
“Our infrastructure is also old. Now the sewage from the burst pipe is also flowing into the Palmiet River and affecting plant and animal life,” she said.
Source: Sunday Tribune