News / South Africa / Government

Nompendulo Ngubane
2 minute read
16 Oct 2019
7:05 am

Still no water in Pietermaritzburg taps after four years

Nompendulo Ngubane

Residents use one stream to do their washing and another for drinking water. Cattle and goats drink from the same streams.

Maqongqo residents wait for a water tanker. The taps in their homes have not worked since they were installed four years ago. Picture: Nompendulo Ngubane

The uMgungundlovu municipality in Pietermaritzburg has broken its promise to send contractors to Maqongqo to fix taps which have never had water since their installation four years ago.

At present, residents fetch water from a dirty stream which they call Emarasteni. The elderly women have to travel about 4km to the stream and they have to sieve cow dung from the water before using it.

A water tanker does come, but not often enough, say the residents. The tanker comes twice a week and, sometimes, only once.

According to the residents, their communal taps were removed in 2014 and 2015. Individual taps with water meters were installed at each house as part of a water project for Maqongqo. But the new taps have never worked.

Maria Maphumulo, 72, has a leg injury. Her husband uses a wheelchair. She fetches water from the stream in a five-litre container and has to go there at least twice a day.

Seventy-nine-year-old Agnes Malembe said water delivered by the water tanker was not sufficient.

“The only option is the stream,” she said. “No one is telling us what went wrong.

“At our age, we should be embracing the few days we are left with. We drink contaminated water, but we vote.”

Residents use one stream to do their washing and another for drinking water. They take turns clearing the streams and cutting trees and long grass. Cattle and goats drink from the same streams.

Ward councillor Nhlanhla Zondo said the project was dependent on funds from the uMgungundlovu district municipality.

Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said the municipality “will immediately process the outstanding payment due to the contractor”.

He did not answer questions about why it had taken so long to bring water to the area.

Zuma promised that the contractor would return to the site on Monday this week. But according to residents, the day came and went with no sign of a contractor and no water in the taps.

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