The City of Cape Town is working steadily to resolve a sewer surcharge that has been affecting the residents of Hazeldene and Philippi for several days.

The surcharge is a result of a significant blockage, which City officials have found challenging to access and clear.

“Manholes that needed to be accessed had, over time, been buried, and the density of informal settlements makes it difficult to bring in the necessary equipment,” the city said in a statement released this week.

Factors hindering work

The city added that patching the system to relieve the unpleasant conditions using overpumping has been made difficult by overcrowding, the railway line that runs next to Vanguard Expressway (which needs to be kept clear), and criminal elements within these communities targeting contractors.

For several weeks the City has been over-pumping past a blockage on the Philippi sewer at the entry point to Hazeldene, while bucket machines were removing material from the pipe in an attempt to clear it. This forms part of an ongoing effort to clean the entire Philippi sewer.

On Monday afternoon the blockage cleared at the Hazeldene stormwater pond and moved down the pipeline to the western side of the railway line and again lodged in the pipe in the area between the railway line and Vanguard Expressway.

Two jet machines were immediately brought on site working from manholes on either side of the blockage.

According to the city the manholes were constructed to what was previously the natural ground level (NGL) but over the years the ground between the manhole at the railway line and the one at Vanguard Expressway had been filled in with material to more than 3 metres above NGL (unauthorised).

As a result the intermediate manholes are completely covered which has prevented the jet machines from working above the manhole openings.