PICTURE: Sedgefield’s noxious ‘welcome mat’ greets motorists coming from the west. Taken 9/1/2024
Whilst it seems the December/January holidays have seen a welcome influx of visitors coming to spend time in the country’s favourite ‘Slow town’, with many businesses reporting a bumper season and traffic to the Saturday markets queuing right back into the village, there have been service provision failures that could well have resulted in disaster, never mind a besmirched name for Sedgefield as a tourist destination.
After already suffering a brief period without water in late November due to a broken pump, Sedgefield was once again left ‘high and dry’ during the peak season days of 26 and 27 December when damaged pipes left the reservoirs drained. Whilst these pipes were eventually fixed, the reservoirs could not be filled fast enough to cope with the consumption of water.
Visitors – many having spent hard-earned money on accommodation and travel to Sedgefield– were no doubt highly perplexed and more than a little concerned that this might be the reality for their entire holiday. How does a tourism service provider explain to his guests that the accommodation they are paying thousands of rands per night for does not have a single flushing toilet?
Sporadic waste collection by the Municipality has also presented a huge problem – once again the result of infrastructure failure. Sedgefield’s (ex) Recycle Centre has again become an unofficial waste storage depot for the Knysna Waste management team, and visitors coming into town from the west end have had the most unwelcome sight (and smell) of towering heaps of bulging black bags, not to mention an increasing infestation of rats! Further, waste left uncollected on the verges outside homes through the heat of the day certainly does not give the impression that ‘all is well’ in our local municipality.
Given this shocking state of the Sedgefield refuse centre and the challenges with water supply, members of the Sedgefield Ratepayers and Residents Association (SR&RA) Executive committee called for an urgent meeting with Mr Ombali Sebola, Knysna Municipal Manager (MM) and Sedgefield Area Manager, Mr Pravir Hariparsad, on Monday 8th January 2023.
They have sent this feedback for publication.
The Area Manager explained that the main challenge behind the poor management of waste removal and the build-up at the refuse centre was the failure of the Knysna Waste Transfer Station (KWTS). A conveyor belt snapped, causing delays in compaction.
SR&RA requested that regular maintenance of the KWTS be done. The Area Manager advised that this was being attended to with a planned upgrade and refurbishment later this year.
SR&RA enquired how many refuse trucks are operational in the Greater Knysna area. The Area Manager advised that there are 11 compactors, of which five are brand new.
The Municipal Manager reassured us he would commission a truck to clear the existing refuse.
SR&RA suggested recycled waste should be managed as a business, and further investigation needs to be done before signing the current proposal with Garden Route District Municipality. The Municipal Manager stated that the District Municipality must support local authorities and that recycled waste should be turned into employment/job opportunities. SR&RA confirmed with the MM that we have submitted a written objection to the proposed section 33 agreement with the Garden Route District Municipality.
On the water issue, the Area Manager reiterated the failure of the pump at Cloud 9 reservoir, followed by two major pipe bursts. This left large parts of Sedgefield without tap water and reliant on water tankers. SR&RA asked what long-term plans are in place for water security. The Area Manager explained that Knysna Municipality was looking at all options, including drilling more boreholes, extending pipelines and, in the long term, even constructing a dam in Kruisvallei.
SR&RA will continue to engage with the Knysna Municipality on all service delivery issues.