High water table proves problematic for MLM

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GK CRONJE

18 October 2022

Thulatsepo General Trading was appointed as contractor for the project, with a completion date of 30 June 2023.

Residents in De Bruin Park have been left baffled, after contractors excavated an extended portion of the main sewerage line between Camden Avenue and Roberts Street, at the Pet Dam. Residents were told by the said contractor that they were appointed to upgrade the sewerage line to alleviate spillage issues. However, they have done more harm than good. In President Fouché Avenue, near the Roberts Street intersection, raw sewage has been flowing for months into the field. The trenches dug by the alleged contractor merely exacerbated the issue, with several more spillage points being noted following excavation. In Mauritz Read Street, towards Camden Avenue, trenches had been excavated months ago, and stood as a white elephant since.

Building materials, including concrete and PVC sewerage infrastructure pipes have been put on display in the field, along with heaps of sand and gravel. Residents have now alerted the Tribune to the fact that the trenches dug in this area are being filled up. The main concern here being that there has seemingly been absolutely no work done on the sewerage network. The trenches are filled with raw sewage, and are now simply filled with soil. Storm drains have been trampled and destroyed by heavy machinery, and are left as is. In one of the trenches, a storm drainage pipe can be noted, which is also damaged. To the point of where the trenches are filled, no sign of upgraded or replaced pipes can be noted. In an official response, Msukaligwa Local Municipality stated that BTMN Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd were appointed to undertake the feasibility study and detailed designs for the Upgrading of Ermelo Extension 32, 33 & 34 outfall sewer pipeline. Thulatsepo General Trading was appointed as contractor for the project, with a completion date of 30 June 2023.

“The excavated sewer line trench was barricaded by the contractor, pending the engineer’s instruction of working along the areas with excessive water table. The engineer’s representative has reported that the contractor has started with backfilling the trench, in order to re-excavate and follow the engineer’s site instruction,” the statement from the municipality reads. “It is untrue that the contractor has left the site and trenched unattended. The contractor has been procuring materials required for working under high water-table areas like this one. Materials such as crusher run stones, geofabric biddim blanket and perforated subsoil drain pipes are required in order to follow the engineer’s instruction.”

However, several residents have brought the train of thought by MLM and appointed contractors in question. “Surely, they should have taken the constant sewage the flows into the field, which is actually wetland, into account. It is only logical that the water table would be high, but it surely isn’t water,” one resident stated. “So, in reality, the entire exercise of months of digging, damaging infrastructure, pipes and stormdrains, have all been for nought? The trenches have been left for months to fill with raw sewage, only to be closed again because of shoddy planning... That is beyond a joke,” another told the Tribune.

Concern has been raised as the summer rain season approaches, and the trenches and surrounding work area left with heaps of loose soil, which will prove problematic, seen as this specific area floods annually, due to the non-existent stormwater drainage infrastructure. Residents in this area should be prepared for more trenching in the near future, as the engineer’s orders are implemented.