The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Ekurhuleni is dismayed at the latest environmental disaster to strike the City of Ekurhuleni (CoE). A Massive fire broke out in the Simmer & Jack Landfill site in Primrose Germiston on Tuesday 8 September.
Landfill fires are of particular concern owing to its degree of difficulty in extinguishing the flames as well as the residue and noxious smog it gives off. The exact cause of this incident still needs to be determined, but the terrain conditions did indicate that the surface area was dry, it was warmer and the working surface was not being compacted as per operating standards recently.
It has come to the DA’s attention that the operating contractor has not been paid by the CoE since June, which is shocking and unacceptable. This lead to the breakdown of the site contractor vehicles, which are needed to optimally run the site and to compact the working surface of the landfill.
The Simmer & Jack landfill site is temporarily closed after a fire broke out on Tuesday, 8 September. No injuries or fatalities were recorded. In the meantime, residents can use alternative landfill sites while the City conducts an investigation to establish the cause of the fire pic.twitter.com/D35YgmReZu— CITY OF EKURHULENI (@City_Ekurhuleni) September 9, 2020
One of the recommended methods from industry experience in fighting a landfill fire is to smother it with layers of covering soil. This option was not immediately available owing to the working vehicles unavailability, caused by the cash flow restriction.
The DA has no confidence that the MMC of Environmental Resources and Waste Management, Cllr. Khosi Mabaso and the Head of Department, Mrs. Faith Mabindisa have the best interest of the Department, City or its residents at heart.
This is just the latest in a string of failures under their leadership, which includes the negligence of appointing grass-cutting contractors between July 2019 and June 2020. Grass cutting is still not taking place in the majority of the City’s parks and open spaces, which further exacerbates the pollution levels in the City’s dams and wetlands.
Furthermore, the CoE is in contravention of environmental air quality legislation and the DA will leave no stone unturned to have this matter investigated and the perpetrators taken to task.
This crisis is also not taken as seriously as it should be when HOD Mabindisa’s response to Councillor’s queries is, “the Department has been requested by the MMC to address Councillors through the office of the MMC”. Therefore, meaning that Councillors may no longer get answers to queries directly from officials but through a carefully spin-doctored response from the ANC political office.
The DA applauds the Primrose Fire Department for its quick response, but more specialised resources will be needed in haste.
DA Ward Councillor, Wendy Morgan, in whose area the landfill site is has escalated her concerns to the City Manager’s Office, and “ we will be closely monitoring the response.”
by Cllr Tiaan Kotzé – Member of Environmental Resource & Waste Management Oversight Committee in City of Ekurhuleni