Water crisis ‘huge challenge’

2015-05-27 06:00

THE unavailability of clean drinking water in Winburg is still a major concern, with the authority of the Masilonyana Local Municipality seemingly unable to solve the longstanding problem to supply clean drinking water.

The residents are constantly lamenting the suffering and pain they endure spending days without water every week.

Last week Tuesday (19/05), scores of disgruntled residents told the Free State premier Elias “Ace” Magashule of their frustration living without clean water.

Magashule, accompanied by his cabinet, toured the town as part of Operation Hlasela, which aims to alleviate poverty through various government interventions.

Disgruntled residents told Magashule and his entourage that the supply of clean water remained a serious challenge in the small town which has a population of just more than 15 000 people.

Winburg, located 100 km north of Bloemfontein, is one of five small towns which fall under the Masilonyana Local Municipality. The five towns are Theunissen, Brandfort, Soutpan, Verkeerdevlei and Winburg.

The residents of the small farming town also complained about unemployment, non-existent service delivery and ward councillors who did not serve the community.

Residents also alleged that the local clinic was gradually deteriorating due to vandalism and not rendering quality service. The clinic’s deteriorating state was blamed on poor fencing.

The residents named the lack of a clean water supply as one of the reasons the clinic was unable to render quality health services to the locals.

One of the elderly women, 70-year-old Moselantja Lesole, poured out her heart to Magashule, telling him of her daily struggle to fetch water and bathe at the home of her mother Mathamaha Lepantiti (111).

Lesole said she even washed her laundry there when water was available, and added that she spent a part of her grant to pay the locals in the Mafura location to fetch water from some of the septic tanks placed across the township.

Lesole told Magashule last Tuesday was the first time she had seen water running from her tap.

“We have water because you are in Winburg, please give us water,” Lesole pleaded.

Another resident, Thabo Moloi (30), said they as residents were surprised when the dusty streets of Makeleketla, the township of Winburg, had been cleaned prior to the premier’s visit.

Angry residents booed and hissed at local ward councillors when they mounted the stage, where a huge crowd eagerly awaited Magashule.

“These councillors are useless, they don’t put the interests of the community first,” screamed a resident in the crowd.

The Winburg water problem will seemingly be addressed after the completion of a multimillion rand water pipeline construction project. Steve Koalane, Masilonyana mayor, said the construction of water pipelines to supply the town with clean water would cost R90 million.

However, Koalane said the construction of water pipelines from the Bethal Dam to Winburg had not been started as yet.

According to Koalane, the municipality procured a company to conduct a feasibility study prior to construction of the pipeline.

While the mayor conceded that water rations was a serious challenge in Winburg, he also said the municipality had constructed four boreholes at R4 million to supply the town with water.

In addition to the four boreholes, he said the municipality had allocated R5 million for the construction of four additional boreholes as an interim measure.

Koalane conceded that the municipality was spending too much money on the upkeep of the dilapidated water infrastructure. “We have decided to replace the water infrastructure as a whole rather than fixing the old one which constantly had faults.”

He added that the municipality was struggling to address the crisis to supply water due to cable theft at their purification plants.

Following a briefing by authorities of the municipality and residents voicing their outrage over the water crisis, Magashule conceded that water was a huge challenge facing the town, and reassured residents the crisis of water in Winburg would be solved

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