[OPINION] The stinking reality of life in Cosmo City

2019 pleasantries and best wishes under the carpet; reality dawns. I wonder whether residents of Extension 6 Cosmo City township - nestled between Northgate Shopping Centre in Northriding and Lanseria International Airport north-west of Johannesburg - enjoyed their festive season.

The sewage drainage systems in Extension 6 Cosmo City ceased to function in the middle of last year. It may well have been before that period but I first noticed it in mid-2018 when I drove past the burst sewage manhole.

Intuitively, I thought authorities would attend to the problem swiftly. How wrong I was.

The road infrastructure where it burst (corner Republic and Central Africa Roads Extension 6 Cosmo City) has collapsed to irreparable proportions.

The stench is unbearable, even from afar. Residents of Cosmo City live with faeces seeping heavily from this manhole.

I went to Cosmo City a day after New Year’s Day. I drove onto South Africa road off Malibongwe Drive oblivious of the fact that this road was no longer drivable because the better stretch of it has collapsed into a river of human waste. I had to look for an alternative route. Fortunately, it was during the day. If it was late in the evening since the road was not - and still isn’t - cordoned off, I would have probably driven through this damaged road full of human excrement.

In my view, this is totally unacceptable and unconstitutional. By all standards, the Cosmo City 'multiclass' township is relatively new. The township was a beacon of health when it was established not so long ago in March 2005. Prior to being allocated RDP houses in Cosmo City, residents lived in squalor in informal settlements in and around Muldersdrift. What a relief it was for them when they had their rights to adequate housing fulfilled in 2005.

The township as a whole is showing signs of having been under-designed ab initio. It is systematically degenerating with water seepages springing up throughout it.

The situation is dire, especially for our precious vulnerable children who walk daily on this excrement to and from school. Their right to adequate health is flagrantly flouted. How do these kids and their parents enjoy their rights under the Constitution in a degraded polluted environment with a collapsed infrastructure?. It is a mystery that these children manage to focus at school under these unhabitable conditions.

If this untreated sewage problem in Extension 6 Cosmo City isn’t arrested soon, I think it is a matter of time before we will witness the deadly cholera disease spreading like wildfire through the area.

We pride ourselves on having a socioeconomic developmental Constitution. Indeed, it is true. The world holds the same view about our esteemed Constitution.

Our National Development Plan Vision 2030 visualises all South Africans irrespective of colour, skin, creed and gender living in a South Africa where conditions do not hinder the flowering - particularly that of our youth blossoming with talents.

We thus have to ensure that we maintain our infrastructure and environment such that it doesn’t degenerate to a point of collapsing like the sewage system in Cosmo City. It will be a gross oversight on us if the excuse for failure to maintain this infrastructure is that Cosmo City is over-populated. We ought to have seen this possibility when the township was established in 2005.

Advocate Mahlodi Sam Muofhe is a human & fundamental rights activist.