by Willem Snyman fresh.ngo
With the huge volume of plastics and styrofoam clogging up and piling back at some of the Hennops River bridges, sustainable solutions must be found to plastic pollution. To augment the cleanups we have been looking into installing litter traps along the river. We met last week with the Tshwane MMC for Health Sakkie Du Plooy and two talented engineers Jean and Jonathan, as well as activist Mia Marsay. We decided to seek private funding and sponsorship for the traps, to make them sustainable, regularly cleaned and plastics recycled. The Hennops River has different problem areas and it seems that three separate waste traps will be needed as it appears that the waste is mostly spread on the banks and caught in vegetation where it is difficult to retrieve in different sections. One is needed higher up, possibility at the Red Barn on the Kaalspruit, to catch the debris coming from informal settlements around Ivory Park where much work still needs to be done to improve waste removal for riverbank communities using streams as waste disposal areas with sewerage leaks and dumping often associated. Education and recycling programmes need to be initiated. The informal settlements built without services within the floodline on building rubble exasperates the problem. Another trap is needed at the bridge near Supersport Park, where a huge amount of trash accumulates. The third trap placed at the sorting site on Wierda Road would be effective. Two active cleanups have taken place there. The Bagerezi (informal recyclers) will also have to be educated on proper waste management and preventing their trash from going downriver when flooding. This kind of industrial activity is not suited for the sensitive ecosystems of a riverbank which belongs to all the people. It is not a suitable place to live either. Formalising their activities in proper locations will help our river ecology and aid their valuable recycling contribution. We will be submitting plans for litter traps and seeking approval from DWS as soon as possible.
In the interim, a large cleanup operation is being planned for the 19th at the Riverview Park at the Supersport bridge. This area is functioning well as a natural debris trap. The plan is to let the litter through the large bridge in a controlled manner, possibly using a TLB from the top bridge and then catching it with a large net below. A truck with a crane on the smaller bridge just below can then lift the net out which will be very heavy. This operation will have to be repeated a few times due to the high volume, while volunteers with smaller nets can catch the loose pieces. We can try a similar operation at the other bridges where trash is accumulating and the netting will serve as practical experiments for the eventual permanent litter traps. Government needs to also look at legislation limiting single use packaging and consumers must help reduce waste, we desperately need to start separating at source and recycling our waste before we drown ourselves and our environment in trash.