Province, metro must fight pollution

BAY ASSET: Swartkops, as seen from the Amsterdamhoek side of the Swartkops River and with the old power station prominent.  Picture: MIKE HOLMES
BAY ASSET: Swartkops, as seen from the Amsterdamhoek side of the Swartkops River and with the old power station prominent. Picture: MIKE HOLMES

I AM privileged to live on Edinburgh Drive, a tucked-away loop of the main Amsterdamhoek drag strip where traffic whizzes by, day and night, and 4×4 behemoths crash disdainfully over the speed humps which vainly try to slow down the speedsters to the limit of 40km/h. The drive heads down towards the river, past Dufour Park (itself a memory of better days when large numbers of colourful sailboarders flitted about in the unbroken wind), then on to a small number of properties which are fortunate to front on to a tidal branch of the Swartkops River.

They enjoy a view across more than a kilometre of salt marsh, crisscrossed by tidal channels. Opposite my own lounge window, 20m from the water, I can enjoy looking across the river to a roosting area for hundreds of birds, mainly seagulls during daylight and whose chatter is clearly audible. Then just after sunset, in come squadron after squadron of sacred ibis, graceful white birds with black-tipped elliptical wings. They settle near the seagulls, until morning calls them back to the vleis opposite Redhouse where they feed during the day.

At the end of the expanse of salt marsh, across the main channel of the river, lies the village of Swartkops, and behind it, the old and now unused power station, with its six tall chimneys. I know not what sort of dragon lives and breathes behind the power station, but every so often – the intervals vary – dense clouds of black smoke issue forth in a huge plume, obliterating the landscape to leeward.

Who are these polluters, what is their industry and is it tyres they burn to cause this blot on the landscape? Is this all too indicative of a city that no longer cares about its image and a municipality for whom air pollution control is not an issue in the wider scheme of urban degradation?

Is it too much to hope that our newly-elected provincial government will open its eyes to the continuing rape of one of the jewels of our urban heritage, the Swartkops Estuary, and will be moved to push our municipality to do something about it?

Come on, province and municipality, honour your constitutional responsibility towards the environment. Act decisively against these vandals who aid in the wanton destruction of what is left of a once-beautiful city, a city that used to care about the heritage bequeathed to it by nature. Then do your duty to put an end to this totally unacceptable pollution.

Roux van der Merwe, Amsterdamhoek, Port Elizabeth

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