HILLCREST – Over 1000 residents of the Upper Highway area took to the street on Saturday, February 4 to protest against air pollution in the area.
Organised by Upper Highway Air NPO, the ‘Toxic Trek,’ started at 9:30 am with a stunning show of unity as the concerned community took action in line with air pollution complaints that began approximately one year ago. “The march on Saturday shows how serious this situation has become, with over 1000 residents marching together to fight for the right to breathe clean air,” said Janine Els, manager of Curves, Hillcrest.
The 2,5 km walk concluded at about 11:30 am with residents in high spirits. “It was truly an amazing event for the community,” said Margoret Stoop, fundraiser for Upper Highway Air NPO.
Residents of Hillcrest, Bothas Hill and surrounds have reported a strong chemical smell in the air. Protesters claimed that the foul smell has persisted over the last year with no improvements. “The smell has been rapidly spreading through the Upper Highway area within the last year,” said Stoop. Online forums have gained thousands of followers who have joined the cause. “We want change and we have the right to live in a healthy environment,” said Els.
“Despite our best attention to the problem at hand, we are disappointed that the Upper Highway NPO refuse to give us time to fully implement a solution,” said EnviroServ Group CEO, Dean Thompson. The waste management service has conducted studies in an effort to remedy the situation. “As requested by the Department of Environmental Affairs, detailed technical and toxicological studies are being undertaken by experts, the full results of which are expected in the coming weeks,” said Thompson.
This after a series of investigations by the Green Scorpions in collaboration with the eThekwini Municipality during January 2017. “The Department of Environmental Affairs has issued a notice of intention to suspend and/or revoke EnviroServ’s Waste Management License for its Shongweni Landfill operation site in KwaZulu-Natal,” said head of communications for the Department of Environmental Affairs, Albi Modise.