School’s battle with blocked sewer pipes

Ellerton Primary School says tree roots frequently choke the neighbourhoods ageing sewers, causing the school toilets to block.

Ellerton Primary School in Three Anchor Bay says a persistent problem with blocked sewer pipes is eating into its budget.

The school says roots from trees in the nearby roads are choking the area’s ageing pipes, which causes the school’s toilets to block, and it has to call the City every three months to tackle the problem.

Principal Carolyn Cannon believes the sewer pipes need to be replaced.

“When the sewerage is not working it blocks the toilets, and even the staff teacher toilets are blocked. How do you keep 400 children confined to four toilets?

“The City should be taking some responsibility because these trees are not in our school. It’s not the trees in the school’s property causing the problems. If they are getting constant calls from us, then surely by now it should be a high priority for them.

“They should come and not let us wait for three days. It could be that one of our children becomes ill from it.”

Teacher Abdurrasheed Rossier said there had been problems with the pipes since he started at the school in 1999, and the City never fixed the problem properly.

“They come ill-prepared and didn’t have the proper pipes. They left us thinking the job is done because we saw the roots in our bins, only to find out that we still had the same problem the next day.” He said they always try to clear the roots at the end of each term because it takes about three months for them to block the pipes.

“It’s an ongoing problem,” said Mr Rossier. “When it happens you have to wait 48 hours for a response and that is very difficult when there is an active school.”

He said the school does its own maintenance and has staff but it comes out of the school’s budget. They also don’t have the heavy machinery that the City uses to clear the pipes each time they are called out. Every time the school asks a private contractor to unblock the toilets it costs them more than R600.

“It costs us, and there is no way of recovering that cost. The government give us an allotted budget which has to cover everything.”

City spokeswoman Priya Reddy said the City would give feedback once it had investigated the matter.