Uncollected Trash Worsens Health Risks Amid Ongoing Pikitup Protest | Infrastructure news

Residents of Randburg, Cosmo City, and the Zandspruit informal settlement in northern Johannesburg are raising alarms over the health hazards posed by uncollected waste, a result of the ongoing protest by Pikitup volunteers.

The protest, which began on Thursday, May 16, is spearheaded by Enos Maake, leader of the Zandspruit-based Combat Movement. This community organization aims to secure employment for locals and combat government corruption. Maake stated that despite years of volunteering at the Pikitup Randburg depot, many workers were overlooked for 300 advertised job positions, alleging corruption, nepotism, and political favoritism at the depot.

The protest has significantly disrupted waste collection services, leading to accumulating garbage and increasing health and safety concerns for residents.

Mavis Ngobeni, 33, from Randburg, voiced her concern about the health risks posed by the uncollected waste, citing the unbearable smell and its potential to cause illness. “The smell is harmful to our health, as it could make us sick. With the waste piling up, it also creates hiding spots for gangsters, making it easier for them to rob us,” she said.

Lucinda Jane Harman, the ward 102 councillor in Randburg, highlighted the urgent need for intervention. “There must be intervention from the City of Joburg mayor, city manager, and MMC and experienced management at Pikitup,” she stated, noting the complete halt of waste collection in her ward.

Ellen Suping-Hlongwane, 65, from Zandspruit, expressed her concerns about the uncollected waste near the local clinic, emphasizing the heightened risk of disease. “This uncollected waste poses a serious risk of diseases for people, especially since it’s being dumped near the clinic where people go to seek healthcare services,” she told IOL News.

Zandspruit councillor David Mangena announced plans to organize a community clean-up, stressing the importance of living in a clean environment.

In Cosmo City, Regina Matlou, 46, worried about children playing with the trash, fearing they would fall ill. “We can’t be living in a dirty environment like this, it’s not healthy at all,” she said.

Ward 100 councillor Lyborn Ndou also emphasized the need to address the trash issue, citing the significant health risks posed to residents.

Pikitup reported on Monday that refuse services were only operational at two out of twelve depots in Johannesburg due to the protests. Law enforcement agencies, including Johannesburg metro police, private security, and Public Order Policing, have been deployed to the affected depots to manage the situation.

Pikitup spokesperson Muzi Mkhwanazi stated that senior management is engaging with workers to resume operations, reminding them of the “no work, no pay” policy. “Senior managers were on the ground today, impressing upon employees to return to work and reminding them that the principle of no work, no pay applies in this instance. The engagements to find solutions to the issue will continue until the matter is resolved,” said Mkhwanazi.

To alleviate the backlog, Pikitup plans to request ad hoc fleet owners to provide compactor trucks and personnel. Mkhwanazi condemned the violent conduct of some workers, stressing the need for essential sanitation services.

Accusations of nepotism and corruption against Pikitup have been denied by Mkhwanazi, who urged those with evidence to come forward and report such issues.

City Manager Floyd Brink is scheduled to lead a media briefing on Wednesday to outline Pikitup’s recovery plans following the disruptions caused by the strike.

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