Landfill down to one TLB

Just one TLB.

That’s the lone vehicle trying to clear the rubbish from Pietermaritzburg residents at the city dump.

The New England Road landfill site continues to be piled high with rubbish because there are no working compacting machines at the dump.

When The Witness visited the dump on Sunday, many of the roads inside the premises were closed off by piles of rubbish.

A waste picker, who asked not to be named in fear of victimisation, told The Witness that many trucks and smaller cars were dumping their rubbish wherever they could find a place.

He said it was too difficult for them to drive up to the top of the dump due to the bad roads and the rubbish blocking the roads. He said it gets worse when it rains.

On Monday, three machines that are used to compact the landfill stood idle.

A staffer, who also asked not to be named, said the machines had been broken for months now, leaving only one small TLB machine to manage the entire dump which caters for the whole of Msunduzi and surrounding areas.

“The TLB cannot compact the rubbish, it can only push it from here to there.

“Since there is only one machine it’s impossible to manage the entire dump with just that machine,” he said.

The only remaining TLB machine at the dump.

In August last year, The Witness reported that the waste pickers had alleged that the constant dump fires were being ignited by a “toxic” substance that was being dumped at the site illegally.

“Piles of this substance are still being dumped here every day because no one actually oversees what people throw here.

“When it gets too hot the substance catches fire and it just spreads and with the rubbish piling up so fast, I am sure there will be another fire very soon,” said the staffer.

In October last year, teams of over 50 firefighters were deployed at the dump to fight raging dump fires that took over five days to extinguish.

The dump fire affected many neighbouring homes, businesses and forced some schools to close because of the unbearable smoke.

The Witness also reported in October that non-compliance was identified at the site since 2015; and following several compliance notices — “too many to count” — all with no response, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, pursued a criminal charge against Msunduzi Municipality for failing to comply with waste management conditions at the New England landfill site.

At the time, Msunduzi mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla apologised to the people of Msunduzi, adding that the site had reached the end of its lifespan and they were “about to close it down and open a new refuse site”.

While several engagements took place between the department and the municipality, even with administrator Sbu Sithole, no concrete action of what was to happen to the dump was forthcoming.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha had not responded to questions from The Witness by the time of going to print on Monday.