Barely managing to cope

2014-05-01 00:00

FIRST it was frequent electricity outages that plagued Hilton residents. Now the residents, particularly those living in the Winterskloof area, have to endure days without water.

In recent weeks, they’ve endured water stoppages that continued throughout the day and night at times. A vocal critic who has lost patience, Dr Dennis Bailey, in his last correspondence to Umgungundlovu District municipal manager Sbu Khuzwayo, was convinced that the staff were pulling the wool over his eyes and were not working hard enough to fix burst and leaking pipes. Barely managing to cope in Hilton, the district municipality was dealt a further blow with burst pipes in the Howick area.

Claude Edwards, representing the residents of the Greendale area, said they had no water on April 6 and 7, and again on April 8 and 15. Edwards said he visited the burst pipe site and found that water was still leaking.

The Hilton residents, like those in Howick, were concerned that the frequent occurrence of burst or leaking pipes was an indication that they were either not being fixed properly or were so old that they were falling apart.

Khuzwayo empathised with residents and endeavoured to explain the problem.

“Regarding the situation in Hilton, it is a sad state of affairs. We acknowledge the frequent burst pipes, simply because after 40 years of useful life, the current AC pipelines have simply reached their ‘sell by’ date and need a total overhaul,” he said.

Khuzwayo said their estimate suggests that the 91,4 km of new piping needed in Hilton alone will cost R164 million. Howick has 70 km of new pipelines to be erected at a cost of R230 million because of gravity and terrain issues.

“There is also Richmond, Mooi Mpofana, Wartburg, Swayimane, Camperdown and so on and thus the total cost is in the region of R1 billion,” Khuzwayo said.

He added that this was money the municipality did not have. According to Khuzwayo, they had secured a loan with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), which was still not enough.

“We are meeting the Dutch Government on May 13 to finalise grant funding to supplement the resources that we have been able to secure. The plan is to finalise various funding sources and work out our prioritisation plan. Hilton tops the list of priorities and we should start in August 2014 to ‘literally turn the town upside down’ and erect HDPE pipelines over three years,” he said.

Khuzwayo added that in the interim, at the rate of four pipe bursts per day, his staff were battling to cope, but were trying to fix burst pipes within 3 hours.

“However, burst pipes that happen after hours in dangerous areas like next to electricity substations or along electric fences take time to be located and subsequently fixed,” he said, adding that he understood that residents like Bailey “are deeply frustrated with us and have lost both patience and faith in us”.

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