Collaborative Action to Prevent Overflow in Cape Town through Protecting Sewer Drain Manhole Covers

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As the rainy season begins, the Water and Sanitation Directorate of the City of Cape Town is requesting the participation of residents in preventing sewer overflows. An essential part of this effort is to protect the sewer drain manhole covers, which are crucial for the city’s infrastructure.

The Importance of Sewer Drain Manhole Covers

Sewer drain manhole covers are typically circular and situated in the center of roads, and sometimes on private properties. They perform a vital role in controlling the flow of sewage through sewer pipes, minimizing the probability of overflows and flooding. The general public should not remove these covers, and only authorized city personnel can access them for work related to clearing pipe blockages. Therefore, it is imperative that residents report any missing or broken covers to the city through the correct channels in a timely manner to ensure their prompt replacement.

The Challenge of Missing or Stolen Sewer Drain Manhole Covers

The Directorate allocated around R914,252 between July 2022 and May 2023 to replace over 3,625 sewer drain manhole covers throughout Cape Town. Although this number represents a decrease compared to the 5,583 missing or stolen covers reported during the previous fiscal year, the issue persists.

Unfortunately, manhole covers are frequently stolen or damaged, posing a threat to both road users and residents. Rainwater entering sewer pipes through uncovered drains or illegal stormwater connections exacerbates the problem, while illegal dumping results in blockages. Waste entering the system through sinks and drains also limits the sewer pipes’ capacity to transport wastewater. This situation is detrimental to infrastructure, such as pump stations, and can lead to overflows and floods.

The Role of Residents in Solving the Issue

Councillor Zahid Badroodien, the Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation, emphasizes that open drains represent a significant safety hazard for pedestrians and drivers. The city is required to spend millions of rand to replace missing manhole covers. Therefore, residents’ assistance in reporting any missing or broken covers is crucial in mitigating this issue.

To address the consequences of theft and vandalism, the City of Cape Town has initiated various measures, including offering rewards of up to R5,000 for information leading to the arrest of suspected manhole cover thieves or the recovery of city property. Residents can provide information on stolen property or suspects by calling 0800 11 00 77. If the provided information results in an arrest or recovery by the City’s Law Enforcement or Metro Police, the informant is eligible for a reward of up to R5,000.

Reporting Issues

To report vandalism, sewer blockages, missing drain covers, and other water and sanitation-related issues, residents can use one of the following channels, provide the street address, and receive a reference number:

  • Online:
  • Email:
  • SMS: 31373 (maximum 160 characters, standard rates apply)
  • Call: 0860 103 089
  • Visit a City walk-in center (the nearest location can be found at

Preventing sewer overflows this rainy season is a shared responsibility. By protecting sewer drain manhole covers and reporting any issues promptly, residents can play a critical role in minimizing disruptions and preserving the city’s infrastructure.

A Russian-Spanish journalist and Cape Town native, channels his lifelong passion for South Africa into captivating stories for his local blog. With a diverse background and 50 years of rich experiences, Serjio's unique voice resonates with readers seeking to explore Cape Town's vibrant culture. His love for the city shines through in every piece, making Serjio the go-to source for the latest in South African adventures.

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