Big stink as sewage flows outside office

Specialist consumer attorney, Trudie Broekmann, kicked up a stink about the sewage which has been flowing past her offices in Bo-Kaap, since her practice relocated there from Tamboerskloof in July last year.

MsBroekmannofTrudie Broekmann Attorneys wrote to the municipality numerous times, fruitlessly, and then finally she asked Brandon Golding, Ward 77 councillor, to intervene. Which helped, but not much.

“I moved my practice to ‘Buitengracht Service Road’ in the Bo-Kaap in July and soon after, sewage started flowing from the gutter between us and number 216 on to the road in front of our building, where it puddles and then evaporates.

“We contacted the City and after several requests, they sent an inspector who ascertained that the source of the sewage must be one of the properties behind us, on Jordaan Street. Nothing further happened, despite many, many emails to the City. Could you possibly intervene?” she asked Mr Golding.

“It’s disgusting for my staff to step over the puddle, it’s unhygienic and terribly embarrassing when we have clients visiting us,” Ms Broekmann told him.

There is a chain of correspondence: the first one on August 31 when the water department emailed the attorney: “Your reference number is 9105791884 A query of this nature could take up to 24 hours to be resolved. Please quote your reference number in any follow-ups relating to this matter.”

On September 11, after yet another enquiry, Ms Broekmann’s assistant spoke to Lizaan who said the previous clerk logged the case to the incorrect department, but she has corrected it.

“The City will contact you to attend to this matter”. Really?

Carolyn Borland, Mr Golding’s assistant, on November 7, wrote to Sharmista Nundlall asking if she could help. “A site inspection was conducted this morning (November 9) and unfortunately Water Pollution Control is unable to assist on private matters. The finding of the inspection was that no pollution into the municipal infrastructure was observed. We advise that the owners deal with the matter privately,” Ms Nundall said.

MolepanaRamonyai,yet anothercustomerrelations agent, wrote on November 13, that: “Sharmista conducted an inspection sometime last week and on her report she mentioned that there was no pollution into the stormwater system. She further conducted an investigation yesterday and she found out that there was a flow from the servitude. Unfortunately she could not ascertain the origin of the water during her investigation but she managed to liaise with the reticulation team to find out as to where the blockage originates from as they mentioned that they previously unblocked that same line. We are still waiting for their report and further investigate to establish the source of the blockage.”

Ms Broekmann said this was unacceptable.

“As ratepayers we are being affected by the stench and perpetual spill of sewage in front of our building. We are unable to ascertain the source of the sewage, except it is not from our building only the City can find that out. The sewage flows along the furrow which presumably belongs to our neighbour, but then pools right in front of our entrance on the road, which is the municipality’s responsibility to keep hygienic. How many times does the CoCT expect us to report this problem before they resolve it?,” she said and asked Ms Nundlall to send them the report, including the “plans to ascertain the source of the spill”.

Ms Nundlall said the teams found the leak on private property.

Ms Borland said they were aware of the blockage and the teams did attend to it.

“It is complicated by the fact the cause of the blockage is on private property, but we had thought it had been resolved. We will urgently get hold of the department to address.”

Thought planted a feather and thought a chicken would grow.

A truck arrived with a camera to find the blockage.

“However, I suspect the problem emanates from a neighbour having connected their sewerage outlet to the stormwater system, which then blocks and overflows into our road. In fact, an inspector said the source of the sewage must be one of the properties behind us, on Jordaan Street,” Ms Broekmann said.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, said the sewage emanates from a crack on sewerage pipes on private property and is due to ageing. The sewage seeps into the stormwater system, which runs past Ms Broekmann’s building.

Ms Limberg said the team went on walkabouts and inspections and used CCTV to find the problem.

She said the City will issue a notice to the property owner advising him to clear blockages, replace or repair sewer installations within 14 days but she could not contact the relevant department to find out when the notice was issued.

The sewage still flows in the gutter outside the law firm’s building. Ms Broekmann told Mr Golding last week: “I refer to the answers you gave Mr Joss, and despite your assurances, the stream of effluent continues to empty in front of our building, so the owner of the Jordaan Street house whose pipes are leaking, is clearly ignoring the City’s notice. I request that the leaking sewerage pipe now be repaired by the City and the owner be charged for the cost.”