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By Liam Ngobeni

Freelance journalist

Pretoria east restaurants accused of polluting bird sanctuary

The food outlets are in violation of city bylaws for dumping solid waste such as fat into the Walkerspruit in Brooklyn, which pollutes the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary.

Five food outlets have been issued notices for non-compliance and given one week to comply.

This after municipal health inspectors last week found that five food outlets in the east of Pretoria are contributing to pollution at the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary, reports Pretoria Moot Rekord.

According to a report by the inspectors, the outlets are in violation of city bylaws for dumping solid waste such as fat into the Walkerspruit in Brooklyn.

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“The solid waste wash areas and housekeeping [at the restaurants in question] are not meeting city bylaw requirements,” the report said.

“Notices were issued and they were given one week to rectify this.”

The report also revealed that one of the restaurants had “no provision for washing”.

“This matter will be taken up with the restaurant’s management,” the report said.

The report comes after local ward councillor Anru Meyer complained to the metro about “heavy pollution” in the area in February.

Meyer was made aware of the problem when residents complained of bad smells at the Walkerspruit because of suspected pollution from further upstream.

The report stated the problem been going on for several years now, and that the pollution control section has been trying to resolve the problem and come up with corrective measures.

Its findings were made after the health department and pollution control section officials inspected storm-water flows and drains in the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary.

It was feared the pollution would endanger the birdlife at the sanctuary.

Inspectors also looked into so-called “fat traps” at nearby restaurants.

These needed to be checked regularly to see whether they are compliant.

“Storm-water pollution letters will be issued [to the restaurants] as soon as possible,” the report said.

The report cited other problems such as vagrants staying underneath a building next to the storm-water channel.

“They also contribute to the pollution and the TMPD should be contacted to assist with the matter.”

A public meeting will be held on Wednesday to discuss the matter.

Issues such as rehabilitation of the dams by the polluters will be discussed.

Meyer said he welcomed the report, and hoped more inspections would be done.

“These type of inspections at corporate facilities and shopping centres must be held regularly,” he said.

“We must stop this from happening in the first place rather than simply reacting to situations when damage has already been done.”

“We need to work on initiatives to get these [restaurant] outlets involved in structures such as friends of Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary, or to help such organisations.”

He said this was would benefit the environment.

He also thanked the inspectors for doing “an outstanding job”.

“We need more inspections, not just in Pretoria east, but citywide so we preventative and not simply react to things.”

“I am impressed that the city responded quickly and thoroughly,” said Meyer.

“The metro did an outstanding job in trying to rectify the matter and getting these corporate companies to be compliant with city bylaws and regulations.”

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