Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


‘Nothing to celebrate’ on World Water Day as taps run dry

Residents in Hammanskraal said their water resources were at a critically low point, while the water supply in the area also remained unreliable.


As the world celebrated World Water Day on Tuesday, members of South African communities such as Temba, and Lefatlheng in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, as well as parts of Giyani, say they had nothing to celebrate. With sewage flowing above ground while their taps run dry, residents in Hammanskraal said their water resources were at a critically low point, while the water supply in the area also remained unreliable. Vincent Mahlangu from Lefatlheng said it was time for the government to acknowledge that the lack of access to clean water was a crisis so it could be treated with the…

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As the world celebrated World Water Day on Tuesday, members of South African communities such as Temba, and Lefatlheng in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, as well as parts of Giyani, say they had nothing to celebrate.

With sewage flowing above ground while their taps run dry, residents in Hammanskraal said their water resources were at a critically low point, while the water supply in the area also remained unreliable. Vincent Mahlangu from Lefatlheng said it was time for the government to acknowledge that the lack of access to clean water was a crisis so it could be treated with the urgency it deserved.

“You cannot say it’s not an emergency when we either wake up to dirty brown water coming out of our taps, or no water at all.

“They need to do a better job of offering services to their people,” he said of the government, noting the problem had been ongoing since 2015.

Many other communities such as Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality, Mabolela village in the Free State, Kannaland Municipality in Western Cape and Muchongo, Matswale and Nancefield villages in Musina have been forced to stomach weeks without access to clean water and daily sewage leaks.

Diverting from the problem, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu said there was no water crisis in the country. According to him, it was a “reticulation problem”.

This was what resulted in dry taps in some parts of the country. Most of the country’s dams were overflowing due to the recent lush rains, Mchunu said. He said the difficulty was in reticulation and it was also a management issue. However, previously there was a focus on bulk management of water as opposed to reticulation – which had now become the focus.

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“We are focusing on key schemes in the country such as in Mokopane and Polokwane in Limpopo, and in the Free State, Bloemfontein and Gqeberha as well,” Mchunu said.

“We are not going to detach our eyes from ensuring water isalways available via big schemes.

“But at the same time, equally, we will attend to reticulation of water to communities, households and businesses – which is the thing that has been lacking.”

Meanwhile, Sylvia Vandzawu said there were a large number of villages around Giyani still without water, even though there were billions of rands spent on a bulk water scheme.

“We push wheelbarrows in the sun for kilometres to get clean water to drink and cook,” she said.

“We can have water today and dry taps the next morning. We fill buckets and drums when we can.”

– reitumetsem@citizen.co.za

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