Khayelitsha volunteers roll up sleeves to clean up uncollected rubbish

Residents say the contractor stopped cleaning over two months ago because of a dispute with the City

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Volunteers in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, filled dozens of bags with rubbish which they say had not been collected for more than two months. Photos: Sandiso Phaliso

Fed-up community members from W Section in Khayelitsha, Cape Town have rolled up their sleeves to clean up uncollected rubbish strewn across their streets.

The group of about 100 residents gathered at the weekend and split into smaller groups to clean up discarded plastics, rotting food and even human waste.

The volunteers claim the contractor hired by the City of Cape Town stopped cleaning the streets over two months ago because of a dispute with the City. Residents complain that the smell around their homes is unbearable and that the area is infested with flies.

Before the clean-up project, residents went door-to-door collecting donations. They collected R400 and were able to buy 13 rolls of rubbish bags. Each volunteer brought their own gloves, spade, rake and wheelbarrows to carry the rubbish.

GroundUp saw volunteers clearing away rotten food, cardboard, electrical appliances, nappies, old car parts and stagnant water.

Community leader Sandile Nzwana said: “The City is not getting to the source of the problem, which is not employing people through its Expanded Public Works Programme. People from this community should look after cleaning services in this area because contractors care more about profits than the areas they serve.”

He said part of the aim of the clean-up was to educate other residents about illegal dumping and littering and promote recycling. “This place is an eyesore,” he said.

Volunteer Nonkosi Phanginxiwa told GroundUp: “We decided to clean because the City is failing us. For months waste has not been collected. We have been complaining about the rubbish for too long and it seems the City only cares about us when it is election time.”

Phanginxiwa said the community had tried several times to alert the City about the piles of dirt around the area but to no avail.

City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Waste Management, Grant Twigg, told GroundUp: “The City is aware of the current situation in affected informal settlements” which include Khayelitsha, Delft, Wallacedene, Driftsands, Fairdale, Dunoon, Atlantis, Philippi, Gugulethu and Langa.

“Cleansing services in these areas have unfortunately been affected since 1 July 2023. Since then, City teams have been servicing affected areas by extending their internal resources and will continue to do so until further notice.
“Unfortunately, there are simply not enough staff to realistically compensate for absence of normal planned programmes. However, please be assured that the City is following due process towards resuming normal cleansing services with urgency, and it is looking at all options and alternative cleansing services in all disrupted areas during August.”

Twigg said: “We understand the dire nature of this situation and everything possible is being done to expedite a solution. The City sincerely regrets any inconvenience caused to residents who have been negatively affected by this disruption.”

Volunteers clear away rubbish which has been accumulating in their neighbourhood.

Update on 2023-08-02 14:11

This article was updated to include the comment from Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Waste Management, Grant Twigg.

TOPICS:  Housing Waste management

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