No answers from municipality to residents’ complaints of leaking sewerage pipes


Duncan Village residents say their houses are wet and smelly

Photo of man in house
Vuyisa Dyani says he has stopped painting his house because the paint always comes off. Photo: Siphokazi Vuso

Duncan Village residents have been complaining for years about broken drains and pipes which leave their houses wet and smelly. But the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCCM) says pipes are checked “frequently” and if they haven’t been fixed it’s because of budget constraints.

Residents say they live in damp, squalor, and with a terrible stench, as a result of broken sewerage pipes and leaking drains.

Most are old people.

Nowam Qele says that even when it stops raining her floor is always damp. She says she had to build a shack where she can sleep with her three children when it rains. Qele says all her children have grown up in these conditions.

“We have been living like this for many years. Instead of a floor carpet, I use plastic and paper to cover the floor, because a carpet gets ruined by the water coming up from under the floor,” she says.

Kozina Dumile says she wishes she could live in a house that is safe for her and her ten-year-old child.

“I will never buy furniture again,” she says. “If you look under my bed it’s wet. People shouldn’t live like this. How long should we wait for a better life?”

Vuyisa Dyani says there is a drain in his yard which stinks when it is blocked.

“Our councillor neglects us. I have been to the municipality myself on several occasions but when they decide to come to fix it, it always goes back to how it was. We should not struggle like this. If there is a broken pipe it should be fixed right away,” he says.

City’s response

Councillor Ayanda Mapisa referred GroundUp to municipal spokesperson Sibusiso Cindi.

Cindi said water leaks were often caused by pipes that are corroded and old and sometimes they are caused by vandalism.

Asked why the pipes had not been fixed since they have been leaking for years, he responded with two words: “Budget constraints”.

On budget questions he referred GroundUp to the BCCM website and in response to a question on how much had been spent in Duncan Village this year, he said, “Money has been spent where there has been a dire need for new pipes”.

Asked how often the municipality checked pipes, he said: “Frequently”.

GroundUp then asked when the Duncan Village pipes had last been checked. “Pipes are checked frequently,” said Cindi.

Unedited correspondence between GroundUp and Sibusiso Cindi

Cindi’s answers are in red.

Sent: 15 November 2016 03:52 PM

Good day,

Duncan Village Mpuntsha street ward 8 residents have been living in leaking homes for years. The water comes in their shacks when it rains, even when the rain has stopped their homes are still wet as the water comes up under the floor:

What is BCMM’s plan to help these residents? BCMM is planning to move all people who live in informal settlements to proper low cost houses. The municipality has set aside millions of rands, together with the department of human settlements for this purpose. But because there are millions of people without decent houses, people will therefore need to be patient as we can’t build house for everyone all at once.

Some of the residents were approved for housing in 2004 - 2005, is there a plan to build homes in that area? When?There is a plan to eradicate all informal settlements and to build new housing structures. This plan is being rolled out throughout bcmm.

The residents say the municipality has gone to fix water pipes in that area before but the problem is still there, what might be causing this water leakage? Water leaks are often caused by pipes that are corroded and old and sometimes they are cause by vandalism. We continue to educate the public about the importance of stopping vandalising water pipes as this leads to water leakages and outages.

Please add any information that might help in this regard.

Sibusiso Cindi, BCMM Spokesperson

Sent: 16 November 2016 02:33 PM
In your last email you said: “Water leaks are caused by pipes that are corroded and old”

Why aren’t they still fixed? as they have been leaking for many years? Budget constraints.

How often does BCMM check pipes to make sure they don’t burst and cause problems for residents? Frequently.

Now that this has come to the bcmm’s attention, is there a plan to go check the cause of this problem? We have a plan, however the plan rests on the budget, thus we appeal all the time to our residents to pay their municipal rates, so that bcmm can have enough money to fix the broken pipes. Without money, our plan is as good as nothing.

Kind Regads


Sent: 18 November 2016 11:00 AM
Good day,

I have a few follow up questions regarding your last email:

How much is the budget for these kinds of repairs this year? Please check on our state of the metro address. If you don’t have a copy check the address on the bcmm website.

How much of that budget has been spent so far? How much has been spent on these community pipes this year? Money has been spent where there has been a dire need for new pipes.

As the bcmm checks pipes frequently, when was the last date precisely did you check these pipes? Pipes are checked frequently



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