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Search for a new landfill site under way

THE uMsunduzi Municipality is working around the clock to identify an ideal location to build a new landfill site to replace the current dump site, which has reached its maximum lifespan.

This was revealed by the municipality during the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Portfolio Committee meeting on Tuesday, when the municipality tabled its reports on various service delivery issues.

Addressing the committee, Msunduzi municipal manager Madoda Khathide said the municipality would put more focus on waste-related issues, including domestic waste collection, landfills and street cleansing.

Khathide said the New England Road dump site had experienced fires in the past two years, and that the municipality had come under fire from residents and ratepayers’ organisations.

He said they were aware of the accusations that the landfill site had reached the end of its lifespan, and the municipality had started a process of identifying a new facility.

“There is a proposed regional landfill site by the uMgungundlovu District Municipality, that they believe is convenient for us to utilise,” said Khathide.

“However, he added that there were still outstanding legal issues the district was dealing with.

“Unfortunately, we cannot wait for them, and we have decided to join them by starting our own landfill site identification process. It will depend on which is finalised first,” he said.

The uMgungundlovu District spokesperson, Brian Zuma, said two sites had been identified in uMshwathi and Mkhambathini, for which land evaluation had been done a few years ago. At the time, the cost analysis was estimated at R285 million.

“Over the years, there have been engagements with Msunduzi, the departments of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) and the owners of the land.

“The delay in expediting the process has really been due to the technical aspects involved in the envisaged project,” said Zuma.

Speaking to The Mercury, mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla did not stipulate when they were looking to close the current site, and how much time they had available to set up a new landfill site.

Thebolla said there was still a long way to go in getting the site, however the matter was receiving urgent attention.

“The location of the current landfill site is not good as it is between communities.

“Another issue is that the site’s lifespan has been shortened as it has not been properly managed.

“We have only used 5% of its lifespan.

“However, due to poor management, we find ourselves in this situation,” said Thebolla.

Khathide said access roads at the current landfill remained its biggest problem, especially during the rainy season.

“We have struggled over the past three months to access the site because of the weather conditions in Msunduzi.

“It’s a challenge to reach the highest level of the site, as we have been piling it up over a number of years, and the roads are not convenient to drive on,” he said.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) filed an urgent application against the municipality in the Pietermaritzburg High Court last year, accusing the city of violating constitutional rights and negatively impacting citizens’ health.

“We are defending the matter as the SAHRC has taken us to court for failing to maintain the landfill.

“We believe that we are doing everything in our power to comply with a warning letter issued to us by KZN Edtea,” Khathide added.

He said another key challenge facing the municipality was street sweeping and the collection of waste.

“We are regarded as the filthiest city, and we take full responsibility for that.

“We have since increased the number of people responsible for street cleaning from 38 to 836 people to deal with street cleaning and grass cutting. We also don’t have trucks to collect it with, especially for material that is piled up after we have cleaned the streets.”

IFP councillor Thinasonke Ntombela said looking for a new landfill site would not help when the city was failing to manage the current one.

“There are a lot of issues facing that site, which includes the issue of law enforcement.

“The municipality has failed to maintain the current landfill site, and I question how they will manage the next one,” Ntombela said.