21 January 2013

Namibia: OB Street's Residents Have Had Enough of Blocked Drains

RESIDENTS of Obadja Uushona Street (locally known as OB Street) in Swakopmund's Mondesa suburb say they have had a problem with blocked drains for the past 40 years and want the municipality to sort it out for once and for all.

According to them, sewage overflows happen up to three times a week. Last week alone sewage was flowing from the drains at several houses every day, they claim.

"This has been going on like this for years and years and nothing is really being done about it," said one of the residents.

Residents have dug trenches in their yards to redirect the sewage to flow out into the street. Sometimes, the sewage flows into their homes.

"How can we live like this? It's dangerous, even in the streets. People have to walk through it; children play around it. It can make us very sick," said another resident.

Across the road, a senior citizen keeps an eye on the children to keep them away from the sewage ponds in the street.

At one house, the drain is right next to an electricity box, which could lead to short-circuits.

The residents charge that the municipality does not seem to be taking them seriously.

Reinhardt Kubirske, operations manager at the Swakopmund municipality, said it was a "big challenge" but added that there are "two sides to the story".

"We were there [last Wednesday] to work on the problem of a serious blockage. But there are causes for this. We found blankets and rocks and all kinds of other things inside the system that obviously will cause problems," he said. "This seems to be the answer to the problem."

Swakopmund CEO Eckart Demasius said residents must realise that they would have to face the consequences if they treat a sewage system as a rubbish dump.

He said if the system was used correctly, there wouldn't be such problems. People seem to think they can flush anything down the drain, he said.

"You won't believe what people dispose of. Blankets, clothes, utensils, car parts, building material etcetera. We've even found an engine block once, as well as foetuses on some occasions. How can a system work properly like this?"

According to him, residents will have to be educated.

"Look at some of the ancient sewerage systems in Europe, like Rome for instance. They are still working," Demasius said.

Consultants have been approached to evaluate the sewage system at Mondesa to see whether it needs to be relocated or upgraded. It will not be an easy process because of all the houses there, and it won't just be a matter of putting in new pipes, according to Demasius.

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