R9m to fight tough alien plants

MTHATHA River got a huge makeover worth more than R9million on Monday from the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs.

The clean-up campaign was the result of the continuing drought and alien plant infestation that had polluted the river.

The King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality was given more than R9million to employ 300 people in the clean-up campaign.

Department regional manager Michel KaTwu said it was necessary to apply measures to remove the alien plants because they changed the landscape through the acids they produce. These killed off other life forms.

After these alien plants had been cleared it will be easy for trees such as the wattle and gum to bring back the water they had kept back.

Kawu said these foreign plants influenced and outclassed natural plants and increased fire hazards.

"The department has decided to apply mechanical measures, which includes employing people to eradicate the alien plants," Kawu said.

"We will also use chemical measures in which pesticides are applied, as well as biological methods in which insects like ingqokoqhwane are used to destroy them.

"But it is difficult since the sewage from surrounding areas make these plants flourish. Minister Buyelwa Sonjica has given the money to deal with this challenge.

"At the same time skills will be transferred to the people in as much as it will alleviate poverty at least for a period of two years," Kawu said

Sonjica announced that a further R96million was allocated to repair sewerage pipes for each municipality in Eastern Cape.

"I believe this step will encourage people in the province to take care of the water they are using, to ensure that it is not wasted," Sonjica said.