Crucial stormwater drain still a flood threat

BUILT UP AND RUSTIC: Part of the storm drain in Lambert Road is concrete, but the longest portion, leading into and running the length of Van Riebeeck, is simply a wide trench in the earth Picture: JON HOUZET

ONE of the longest stormwater drains in Port Alfred, the drain which runs the length of Van Riebeeck street into Lambert, is still not quite flood-ready.

Part of the drain is concrete, but a long portion of it is simply a wide trench in the earth, with a stone culvert where drains intersect.

Blockages in the drain in past years exacerbated flooding in Lambert Road. Ndlambe Municipality had neglected routine maintenance and allowed the drain to fill with grass, weeds, soil and other debris. During heavy rain a dam overflowed on farmland across the road from the residential area, and with nowhere to go the floodwater flowed right over the drain and across Lambert Road, flooding low-lying properties on the other side.

The floodwater went right through the properties and joined other rivers of water in streets behind.

In recent weeks, when a Lambert Road resident noticed how overgrown the drains had become again – having not been cleared in years – she asked the municipality to clean them.

A municipal crew tackled the task over several days a fortnight ago. TotT noticed that after the workers had finished, they had left behind piles of grass and weed cuttings on the side of the drain.

With the vegetation removed from the drain, the extent of litter in the drain was also visible, yet municipal workers had not removed any of it.

TotT asked municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa why the workers did not take away the grass, weeds and bush that they had cut when they were finished, if a different department was responsible for actually collecting the cuttings, and why the municipality had not picked up the litter – plastics, bottles, cans and other litter which is casually tossed there from passing cars or pedestrians.

Mbolekwa said the cleaning of drains in Van Riebeeck and Lambert road was done by the infrastructure department, but due to vehicle breakdowns there was a delay in collecting the grass.

“All grass, tree branches and other material were collected last week and we really apologise for delay.”

However, TotT still found litter in the drain yesterday, as well as a large mound of soil and grass in the drain at a point where the drains intersect with another drain from Hill Street.

WHERE STORM DRAINS MEET: Ndlambe Municipality says it has cleared the stormwater drains in Van Riebeeck and Lambert roads, but there is still a large blockage of soil and grass where the storm drains intersect with a drain from Hill Street, in addition to litter along the length of the drain Picture: JON HOUZET

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