Durban businesses clear 326 tonnes of waste from the uMngeni River Banks

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Having witnessed the ongoing illegal dumping alongside the uMngeni River over the past few months, Durban-based Reefer Cold Storage spearheaded a private-public-NPO river clean-up. However, the level of pollution so exceeded initial expectations that the team extended the clean-up to two weeks to tackle the astounding 326 320kgs of waste requiring 40 trips to the landfill site and costing R190 000 in total.

Reefer Cold Storage initially contacted Janet Simpkins from the non-profit organisation (NPO), Adopt a River for assistance with the clean-up. They then brought on board other concerned stakeholders, including BMS Foods (Bluff Meat Supply), Multiquip and AlcoNCP who assisted in the waste removal with plans in place to restore the land and prevent further dumping.

“The original plan had been to clear the illegally dumped waste and alien invasives between Connaught and the footbridge along Willowfield Road from 12 to 17 September,” explained Simpkins. “However, the sheer volume of waste found at the site meant that we had to extend the campaign by a week.”

She said weather and red-tape delays were some additional challenges they had to overcome, but there was such overwhelming support from all sponsors involved. Through a partnership with eThekwini Municipality, the clean-up teams got special access to the landfill site to offload the thousands of kilogrammes of waste.

“This area had obviously been a favourite dumping ground for years, with much of the litter hidden by alien invasives. As we literally scratched the surface, the true extent of the dumping became evident. Tonnes of waste have since been removed. We still have small pockets of waste which we will manage over the next few weeks.”

Stamatis ‘kapsi’ Kapsimalis, CEO and owner of Reefer Cold Storage, said the extent of illegal dumping was a massive cause for concern for everyone who relies on this river.

“The uMngeni River is the lifeblood for so many communities in the area, an important part of the delicate ecosystem, and a base for many recreational activities,” he explained. “We could not sit by, as local businesses and residents, and let this illegal dumping continue unabated. The extent of the littering indicates the scale of our pollution problem, but we truly believe it’s something we can address through collaboration such as this.”

He extended his thanks to all the stakeholders who have contributed funds and time to clean up the uMngeni River: “When we realised the dumping exceeded initial expectations, organisations and businesses stepped up to assist in whatever way they could. This is by no means the end of this operation, just the start in a long-term plan to get the river back into a healthy position.”

The next step in the clean-up campaign, says Simpkins, is to encourage the public to celebrate this cleaner space by becoming part of the ‘mass greening initiative’.

“Through this, the public will be invited to adopt a tree or a plant specifically chosen for this area, and assist in re-greening the green belt – the veritable lungs of the city,” continued Simpkins. “We will advertise these details via the Adopt-a-River social media pages.”

There will also be a ceremonial tree planting for each company represented in the campaign, as well as much-needed signage erected to warn criminals that no dumping is allowed in the area. Ongoing monitoring and security will be key factors in keeping this space clear. Communities and businesses are urged to get involved by contacting Adopt a River –

Communities and businesses are also encouraged to monitor and report on any challenges, such as illegal dumping so that measures can be taken. Reports can be made to Durban Solid Waste on 031 311 8804/36 or or walk-in complaints made at 17 Electron Road, Springfield.

To find out more, visit Reefer Cold Storage:; Adopt a River:; BMS Foods:; Multiquip:; and AlcoNCP: