Municipal communicators from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) recently visited an illegal dumpsite in Pacaltsdorp to photograph the progress made by contractors tasked to clean sites.
With shock, communicators noted a countless number of items, including toxic, sharp, and dangerous ones, as well as foul-smelling water – leaving one communicator almost vomiting from the stench. “The scariest part is that there were kids playing in the same area, metres from the dangerous field of waste and water,” said one communicator.
The GRDM, in collaboration with George Municipality, is hard at work trying to clear illegal dumpsites in the George area, including Thembalethu and Pacaltsdorp. GRDM has committed R2.47 million to the project. George Municipality earlier announced that they will contribute R500 000.00 to curb illegal dumping sites. JCB backhoe loaders are utilized to clear sites and 35 Expanded Public Works Participant (EPWP) waste pickers work alongside these trucks to collect smaller items. More activities are lined up to take place over the next few months, including a survey to find out why people illegally discard of waste; and door-to-door awareness about the impact of illegal dumping, etc.
The question many Garden Routers is asking is – do we all want the areas cleaned or have many of us decided that a clean and safe environment is not important? The GRDM stumbled upon concerns raised on Facebook by a government employee who said that an illegal dumpsite was cleaned by the municipalities (Garden Route District and George), but moments later someone dumped their waste there again. Others commented on her post by saying that municipalities should plant trees at the sites, however, this suggestion was said not to work because some community members might remove the trees. Another person said that the municipalities cleaned an area on a Monday, but by Tuesday the area was dirty again.
GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) monitor the areas each day after a clean-up was conducted. EHPs are already aware that water at illegal dumping sites is toxic, but a decision was made to take water samples which will be analyzed. Test results will indicate how dangerous these sites are (backed by scientific evidence).
The public is urged to remind their friends, family and neighbours that the illegal dumping of waste is dangerous and that it poses a health hazard. Waste should be collected in refuse bags and placed for collection on waste removal days. Builders’ rubble and waste not suitable for bags must be dropped at the municipal refuse site on the R102 (airport road).
Communities can provide names, vehicle registration details, or addresses of alleged illegal dumpers and make a statement in this regard by contacting Law Enforcement at 044 801 6350 or firstname.lastname@example.org. George Municipality states that a person doesn’t need a photograph of the perpetrator, but that it would strengthen the case for a warning or fine to be issued.
Members of the public are also welcome to report illegally dumped waste sites to 044 802 2900.
Illegal dumping remains an offense and carries a R1000 fine.