Municipality must come clean about growing sewerage problem

Eileen van der Schyff

TransNamib is reportedly investigating the integrity of the railway line along the stretch running along Neptune Street at Narraville, after residents complained semi-purified water (effluent water) drained from the sewer system into temporary holding ponds in the dunes are seeping under the railway line and it could collapse under the weight of a train.

A team of the national rail carrier was observed inspecting the line yesterday morning. That was after receiving com-plaints from concerned residents. Improvement work to Walvis Bay’ sewer network is currently carried out, and it leads to much frustrations among residents and businesses alike. The frustrations are mounting among residents of Neptune Street. Not only do they fear disaster should a train derailment take place if the strength of the line is negated by the water. Trains carrying hundreds of thousands of sulphuric-acid destined for mining operations are passing Narraville weekly. In the event of a derailment, a sulphuric acid spill would take place a stone’s throw from the nearest houses and with what residents termed “unthinkable” consequences.
Two residents claim they have contacted the municipality on the matter. However, the outcome of these complaints was not known at the time of going to press. They charge the sheer stench of the water being drained from the sewer system into ponds in the dunes is now reaching a point where they simply cannot take it anymore. Then there are fears of children drowning in the water if they play there, not even mentioning disease. A recent outbreak of Hepatitis E is regarded by these residents as a direct result of the municipality of Walvis Bay struggling to manage semi-purified water in the wake of the upgrade process.
Elsewhere in Walvis Bay frustrations are also mounting. Several businesses which include a service station, a bank and a leading super-market group are concerned over the closure of a stretch of Rikumbi Kandanga Road in the central business district for the upgrade of the sewer line.
“It is unacceptable that the contractor can close the street entirely. If the contractor plans better and work with for in-stance the traffic authority to regulate traffic our customers will at least still be able to reach us”, charged a business owner this week. At this stage his concern is compounded by the fact it seems the municipality is dragging feet to come to the table and discuss options around the road closure. There are only days left before the con-tractor wants to close the road.
Several residents also complained about the appalling quality of the semi-purified water (effluent) for irrigation currently produced by the sewerage plant. The water has a distinctly dark brown and black colour. Reports are that the water kills off lawns. The Walvis Bay Golf Club is one example. Officially the Club’s management declined comment, but it is no secret that the Club cannot use the effluent water to wet the greens, as the water kills off the grass. The Club relies on fresh water to water the greens and that resulted in sky-rocketing operating cost.
“We are going through a recession. Even sport clubs feel the pinch be-cause members don’t have the spending power as under normal economic conditions. With a reduced monthly income, it is not sustain-able for us to for in-stance having to cope with astronomic water bills simply because the semi-purified water can-not be used for gardening purposes”, said a very disgruntled club member of the Walvis Bay Golf Club recently.
Along Kovambo Nujoma Drive at the Walvis Bay lagoon, residents and business operators complain too. The effluent smells and many are too scared to even have their children play on the public lawns in fear of them contracting a disease. Many can also testify of the embarrassing moments when tourists disembark their vehicles to view the picturesque lagoon and the birdlife, only to be con-fronted instead with an unbearable stench of human waste.
“We appreciate every effort the local authority does to upgrade Walvis Bay’s infrastructure. However, that does not exempt the municipality of Walvis Bay to go public over the current situation. The municipality need to explain what is going on and most important what is going to be done to improve the situation. In recent weeks residents suffered. If it is not a fly out-break as a result of up-grading the sewerage treatment plant, then it is road closures leading to frustrating traffic congestion. The contractor doesn’t need to close the entire road. If he plans properly half the road can stay open to regulate traffic through the construction area.
We are also not pleased with the fact that our public green belt, our parks and our clubs are suffering damage as a result of poor quality semi-purified effluent.
We feel with the Narraville residents and we pray that tragedy don’t strike in the form of a child drowning or a chemical train derailing”, said a resident who phoned the newspaper this week and inquired about progress made with an investigation into the state of affairs.

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