The Swartkops River, a national marine estuary in the Eastern Cape near Port Elizabeth has received a much needed clean up.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has made available a budget of over a million rand for the project.

The river has been heavily polluted over the years, yet it’s a critical part of the local eco-system for fish breeding.

It also sustains communities living close by.

Compounding the pollution is the alien vegetation mainly Water Hyacinths. These plants multiply rapidly and absorb oxygen from the water killing fish and plant life

A massive clean-up has made a big difference.

James Jansen area project manager of environmental affairs says: “There is no more water hyacinths – it was a green blanket, but now as you can look it’s clear… it may not be that clean, but it’s clear – and there is a lot of people that come here to do some fishing they catch big fish, so that they can put something on the table. This project is 600-hectares it’s a 120 rugby fields, but this swartkops river flows in the middle in the entire project which is a M10C and this water flows down to the sea.

The river is a lifeline for many locals.

Rani Siyoni has been fishing here for years: “I am happy that the river has been cleaned because I have been fishing here for years and it was dirty and I could not catch fish, the reeds would also break my fishing rods I am glad that they have been removed them from the river, because the river helps us with fish. If we don’t consume the fish we can always sell it for income.”

The clean-up has enhanced the tranquil setting.

Educational plans are in the pipeline so the community can do their part in making sure the river and surrounds stays this way.