Parliament, Thursday, 27 January 2022 – Through the intervention of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, plans are afoot to implement long-lasting solutions to the raw sewage spillage in Bonaero Park, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in Gauteng. The committee visited the area as part of its week-long oversight visit to Gauteng and welcomed the plans being implemented to resolve the matter.
The committee is of the view that the progress at Bonaero Park is representative of how the petition process can work in favour of the people of South Africa. The residents of Bonaero Park petitioned the committee with the aim of finding workable solutions to their challenge. Section 56 (d) and 69 (d) of the Constitution, read with the Rules of the National Council of Provinces and National Assembly, provides for the NA and the NCOP to receive petitions, representations or submissions from any interested persons or institutions.
As a result, Parliament appropriated an amount of R300 million to enable the municipality to deal with the Bonaero park challenge. Among the plans being implemented is the commencement of the development of a bulk sewage pipeline with the capacity to cater for both industry and residents. This work will start at the beginning of February 2022. To ensure effective monitoring, the committee has delegated two members based in Gauteng to keep an eye on the development and the progress of the roll-out of the various projects aimed at resolving this matter.
While the committee welcomes progress, it remains concerned that the residents were subjected to such subhuman treatment, which could have been preventable with effective planning. The committee has reiterated its call for all spheres of government to plan effectively and ensure quality provision of services to ensure that challenges are pre-empted.
Despite the progress, the committee has demanded a comprehensive report on the approval process for the zoning certificate for the business that is largely contributing to the spillage. The committee was informed that the warehouse was initially approved as a jewellery manufacturing plant with limited water discharge, but midway was converted to a food processing plant with high water discharge, surpassing the capacity of the bulk infrastructure. “We need to understand who is liable for the changes in zoning and approved plans, also if the approval processes were followed to the letter. Consequence management must be followed in the case that proper procedures were not followed,” committee Chairperson Ms Machwene Semenya said.
“We are hopeful that through the implementation of presented plans the lives of the people of Bonaero Park will be impacted positively. The committee has urged the municipality to ensure monitoring of the project to ensure that there are no delays,” Ms Semenya said.
Furthermore, the committee has urged the municipality to implement its by-laws in relation to the pollution of the water system. Regulatory and statutory prescripts are in place to ensure that the polluter must pay for the effects of their pollution. “Municipalities are custodians of by-laws, which they must enforce. It is in this context that the committee has urged the municipality and the department to enforce regulatory and statutory prescripts against polluters,” Ms Semenya emphasised.
The committee will collaborate with the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation to receive an update on the implementation of the projects, as well as the implementation of by-laws against polluting industry.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS, WATER AND SANITATION, MS MACHWENE SEMENYA.
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