Locals are coming together to stop the polluting of rivers and canals in Cape Town by creating a petition to punish litterbugs more harshly, with the aim to reach 10 000 signatures.

These natural areas are the city’s lifeblood and Capetonians feel it should be a criminal offence to use these fragile ecosystems as cheap and convenient waste disposal systems.

Every year during heavy rains, tons of plastic, dead animals, TVs, and hazardous medical waste wash down the river and into our oceans because of illegal dumping.

Locals clean up Black River in Cape Town

Eight citizen-led groups involved in regular cleanups along the Mother City’s rivers have observed the following statistics:

– 250 big black bags of waste is removed from Liesbeek River every month

– A volume of waste equivalent to that of 70 big black bags of rubbish flows down the Black River and into the ocean every day

– A small cleanup team in Muizenberg collects approximately 160 full big bags of rubbish per month.

A polluted river in Muizenberg

These dedicated volunteers are seeing the levels of pollution climbing and the City’s river-cleaning efforts are few and far between.

As small-scale localised cleanups are not going to be enough to save our rivers and oceans in the long term, residents are being urged to join the cause to prompt the City to intervene with large-scale strategy and intervention.

The concerned locals involved in the petition demand that the City of Cape Town review and enforce existing bylaws and set up a specialised unit dedicated to solving the problem.

Another polluted river that leads to the ocean

The petition is proposing the following steps:

1. Make cleaning, repair and maintenance of Cape Town’s river and canal system an operational priority with an appropriate and sufficient budget.

2. Make keeping the rivers and canals clean a mandatory council obligation using all available resources via:

i. Bobcats and cranes

ii. EPWP programme employees

iii. Installation, construction and maintenance of effective litter traps and nets where appropriate.

3. Prevent access to the canals for tippers and dumpers by installing appropriate fencing or bollards.

4. Install CCTV cameras at known dumping hotspots.

5. Employ the full force of the law to prosecute and punish offenders and impound vehicles, as per existing bylaws.

6. Provide adequate litter and refuse collection services for Cape Town’s exploding and burgeoning population, particularly in informally-populated areas.

7. Create a campaign to educate communities about the consequences of illegal dumping and river pollution.

Residents concerned about the welfare of Cape Town’s natural environment are asked to sign the petition here.

Pictures: Riversinsouthafrica

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