AFTER months of battling, local handyman Trevor Watson finally gained some ground in his endeavour to improve the appalling state of the Umtiza Nature Reserve.
On April 17, the Buffalo City Municipality (BCM) solid waste department arrived on the scene with four trucks and a TLB to load up the refuse. Trucks transported mounds of rubbish to the Berlin tip site successfully.
Unfortunately, the operation could not be completed as the TLB developed a mechanical problem during the clean-up and had to be taken back to the workshop in Chiselhurst.
This success, although not yet fully realised, can be owed to Watson’s persistent e-mails, letters and communication to various authorities about the state of the reserve and the desperate need for clean-up action there.
“There were many spots where the refuse lies thick on the ground and in the ravine below – a tragedy and an indictment against ruthless people who have no consideration for animals, nature and the well-being of a forest,” said Watson.
“The biggest battle here is to change the attitude of people. This is a war that, if left unchecked, will escalate into a tsunami of filth and devastation.”
Watson’s struggle started earlier this year, when he realised that the Umtiza Nature Reserve near the Buffalo Pass area was suffering under the immense pressure illegal dumping placed on its eco system. Through aerial photographs and foot patrols, Watson discovered that the formerly pristine area was tainted with illegally dumped animal parts, plastic and other litter.
Over the months, despite Watson’s pleas and the ever-increasing piles of litter dumped on the reserve, not much was done by officials to solve the problem.
At first, BCM turned to bulldozing the rubbish into the ravines on the reserve and then took to burning refuse at Mzamomhle near Lathitha Creche, uncovering the magnitude of the scourge of illegal dumping across the city.
Previously, Watson suggested a major cause of illegal dumping was the lack of dumping sites or points near the city, with the closest one being the Berlin site.
Through his findings, it has become clear that there is more to it, as service delivery – or a lack thereof – is also a contributing factor.
“Burning rubbish on site is not an option, nor is bulldozing it into ravines. I was so pleased to hear BCM were finally taking positive action,” Watson said.
During the recent clean-up, the workers and rangers on site concurred that a sturdy fence needed to be erected along the road to prevent future dumping.
“I think the main spots where dumping occurs could have massive boulders lined up as a barrier to prevent vehicles from stopping there.
“It will also not look bad to have large natural boulders as a barricade,” Watson said.
This is but one of the many areas around East London that has been plagued by illegal dumping. The hope is that clean-up operations such as this one will continue throughout the city.