3km tunnel to run under City

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Daily Dispatch

In February, Buffalo City Municipality will start the construction of a R1bn sewerage tunnel that will open the way for the development of housing projects in the city.

The R1.088bn tender was awarded in September 2021 to Cmc-concor.

The work will consist of a 3.4km sewerage tunnel — 3m in diameter and buried 30m deep — running from the central wastewater treatment works in Amalinda to the Reeston wastewater treatment works.

BCM acting spokesperson Bathandwa Diamond said the tunnel was for the diversion of sewage flows from Amalinda to Reeston to allow for the decommissioning of the central wastewater treatment works “due to its non-compliance and proximity to residential areas”.

“The work will be done in phases which will see the construction of a sewer that will traverse under Scenery Park to the newly refurbished Reeston wastewater treatment works,” Diamond said.

It will take 30 months to complete.

Diamond said the municipality had placed a moratorium on development in the central wastewater treatment works catchment area since 2005, because of insufficient capacity.

The work will allow for the development of housing projects to be open again in areas like Wilsonia and parts of Amalinda.

Nontando Ngamlana, an executive director at Afesis-corplan, an East London-based non-governmental organisation advocating for quality and sustainable human settlements, said the construction of the sewer was a good investment for the city.

“We are happy that it will address the long-term housing needs of the city, but we need transparency and time frames on these projects so that when they stall or their costs balloon, we know who is supposed to be held accountable.

“We have seen other infrastructural projects in the city taking longer than their initial time frames,” Ngamlana said.

Diamond said diversion of the sewage flows to Reeston was part of a “strategic decision to regionalise sewage treatment, and provide opportunity for consideration of effluent reuse and consolidated sludge management”.

“The construction will use a tunnel-boring machine; as such this will be a specialised construction site. However, employment opportunities will be created through the provision of bulk services by SMMES in the nearby informal settlement recently approved for township development,” Diamond said.

BCM portfolio head for infrastructure services Malibongwe Mfazwe described the project as “one of the biggest in the city in the postapartheid era”.

“We are talking of a big tunnel here, which will also unlock other developmental projects for the city.

“For the city to grow, we need quality infrastructure.”

Mfazwe said the city would monitor the progress of the project to ensure it was delivered according to time frames and specifications.

“We are a new administration with a new attitude in terms of doing our work.

“This is a mega project that needs close monitoring.

“If anything goes wrong, it is going to cost the city, hence we will have to constantly monitor it,” Mfazwe said.

EFF regional chair and PR councillor Mziyanda Hlekiso said sorting out the sewerage infrastructure in the city was “long overdue”.

“The ANC has failed the people of BCM because the current infrastructure, which is in a state of decay, was built during the apartheid era for a certain minority of people.

“The ANC should have fixed the piping system a long time ago, when they were building toilets for the majority of the people.

“One of the reasons we are having sewage spills on our beaches is because this infrastructure is old and has never been properly maintained.”

Hlekiso said the construction of the tunnel was important for the city “though this is coming at great cost”.

“We will propose for the city to build its capacity and stop outsourcing most of its work for infrastructure projects,” he said.

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