GO Metro – Organisation apologises for dumping, cleans up

June 1 saw Southernwood and Baysville residents up in arms against workers from local organisation, Engage Men’s Health, who were attempting to dump their waste on Valley Road.

June 1 saw Southernwood and Baysville residents up in arms against workers from local organization, Engage Men’s Health, who were attempting to dump their waste on Valley Road.

Marred by chronic dumping and squatting for more than 20 years, residents living near Valley Road have appealed to the municipality to intensify waste collection in the area but this has not been successful.

Specialising in men’s sexual and reproductive health services in collaboration with the Department of Health, Engage Men’s Health has offices across the country with its East London branch based on Frere Road in Vincent.

According to Engage project manager Thokozo Piliso, the two employees caught dumping by residents were disposing of waste collected during the cleaning of office storage facilities.

On June 5, Engage employees returned to Valley Road accompanied by residents and the local NGO, Faith-In-Action to clean up the site to rectify their blunder.

Piliso said: “We have a strict policy on waste disposal because we make use of pharmaceuticals.

“Our medical and office waste is split up into black and red bags with red being used strictly for medical waste. In this instance our employees were not disposing of red bags, which are kept behind a restricted area, but only general office waste such as paper and leaves.

“It’s not an excuse and we understand that what happened was wrong but when the employees were driving past Valley Road they saw the site was already littered with black bags. This acted as an invitation to our guys.

“I must stress that luckily the residents stepped in, in time to save us from dumping on Valley Road and we returned to the site on June 5 to affirm our apology to the community.

“I am very disappointed in what has happened because our business has now been aligned dumping and that’s not the image we stand for.”

There are internal disciplinary processes underway against the employees caught dumping.

Long-time resident in the area and chair of the resident interest group, Tandisa Toyi, said that many private organisations and companies use Valley Road to dispose of waste.

He said: “You find all manner of waste on the site including glass, bricks, tyres, clothes, and even animal matter.

“This is not the first time we’ve caught the culprits however unlike other businesses, Engage has not been hostile towards us and tried to work with us to fix their mistake.

“We have been promised for many years by the municipality to have a fence erected on Valley Road to protect the area but I have been living for almost 20 years here and nothing has come from that.

“We need the municipality to maintain their commitment to implement fines for dumping, track down culprits, and put signs and fences around hotspot areas that are vulnerable to chronic dumping.”

Faith-in-Action, in collaboration with Siyakhula Trading, is working towards reclaiming pieces of land across the city that have fallen prey to dumping.

The organisation has adopted Valley Road and Nahoon View Road and regularly clears the areas in hopes of establishing parks and community gardens in these spaces.

Wickus Terblanche adopted the Valley Road spot earlier this year and hopes to revitalise the area given that it is home to indigenous fauna, flora, and a river.

Terblanche said: “I grew up here, I love Southernwood and this spot is home to some of my earliest memories.

“God put it in my heart to find a way to restore this space and to clean the streets in an attempt to change the spiritual atmosphere of the area.

“Since we have been cleaning on Valley Road we have seen a decrease in crime however when we clear waste from dumping, people return to dump again. There is a massive illegal dumping problem but we are taking it one plot at a time.”

Faith-in-Action urges interested residents to take action against dumping and to contribute towards efforts to clear and fence the area on Valley Road. Contact Lucille Benfield from Faith-in-Action: vukani2.benfield@gmail.com.


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