DA to institute legal action against eThekwini Metro for failure to fix sewerage plants

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, John Steenhuisen, says the party intends to institute legal action against the eThekwini Metro for the alleged violation of human rights and environmental laws because of its failure to fix several sewerage treatment plants.

Steenhuisen led an inspection of a waste treatment plant in Pinetown west of Durban. It was damaged during April’s floods and has not been repaired.

The Umbilo wastewater treatment plant in Pinetown has not been operating since April. The DA says the malfunctioning plant, one of several in the city, is exacerbating the high e-coli levels as a result of raw sewerage spilling into nearby rivers and eventually, the sea. Steenhuisen says they want the courts to force the eThekwini Municipality to repair the damaged infrastructure.

“If effluent like this is pumped into the river is harmful to the prospects of the communities living down streams and also to the end users of beaches. Following our discussions with our attorneys and examining eThekwini’s response in this matter that eThekwini municipality is in breach of the constitution, the environmental management act. So I can announce that we will be taking legal action against eThekwini municipality for the breach of the regulations and we will be taking them to court.”

Steenhuisen says the ongoing closure of some beaches, north of the City, will have detrimental impacts on hospitality businesses and hotels during the upcoming festive season.

“The beaches and Durban’s magnificent, beautiful beaches remain unique selling propositions in attracting tourists, particularly over the December period. The economic disaster for Durban and businesses of businesses in Durban and livelihoods in Durban is going to be massively devastated if Durban beaches remain closed over the December holidays. Hotel businesses all plan ahead for the busy holiday season so if beaches are closed the tourists are not going to come and when tourists don’t come businesses are going to be closed and jobs will be lost.”

eThekwini Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda earlier said that the municipality has received funding from the National Treasury to carry out the repairs.

“We are happy to announce that work to repair this sanitation infrastructure is about to commence following the allocation of disaster relief funds. It is our hope that these all-important repairs will ensure that our beaches are not contaminated so that they remain open throughout the festive season.”

The DA says they intend to picket outside the offices of the South African Human Rights Commission to force it to act on the alleged failure by the municipality to repair the damaged infrastructure.