Emfuleni’s unsanitary mess affects staff
Emfuleni municipality’s own offices are closed due to sewage spills.
“This as a shameful state of affairs and we call on Emfuleni and the building owners to act immediately to resolve this crisis,” says OUTA’s Regional Manager Michael Holenstein.
The municipality’s customer service office in the OK Building on the corner of President Kruger and CR Swart streets in Vanderbijlpark was closed by the Department of Labour as it is a health hazard.
The municipality admits that this is the second time this year the department has shut down those offices. “This illustrates the municipality’s failure to take the situation and the health of its employees and the public seriously,” says Holenstein.
The department’s prohibition notice, issued on Monday, prevents anyone from entering the building “until all the stagnant sewage is removed and all contaminated surfaces decontaminated and an air quality assessment is conducted to indicate no biological contaminants in the air”.
Emfuleni employees say they have for months been exposed to the unbearable stench from the constant sewage spills in the building’s basement. There is also concern that the building may be structurally damaged.
The closure follows a protest by Emfuleni employees, who halted work over the unsafe working conditions after their complaints were ignored for months. For months, employees have fallen ill and been booked off sick by doctors following prolonged exposure to the sewage.
Who owns the building and why did they allow it to deteriorate to this point? Why didn’t Emfuleni intervene earlier when employees first raised this? How much rent does Emfuleni pay for this unsafe building?
Emuleni has now announced that the staff will be relocated and directed customers to other payment methods.