Call on SANDF to help deliver water

2016-11-30 06:01
Desperate for water, residents of a settlement in Qwaqwa stand in a queue with containers to collect water being delivered by a truck.       Photo: Facebook

Desperate for water, residents of a settlement in Qwaqwa stand in a queue with containers to collect water being delivered by a truck. Photo: Facebook

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Trade union Cosatu in the Free State has called on government to deploy South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops to deliver water in Qwaqwa.

The call comes in the wake of the ongoing water crisis. Residents of Qwaqwa have been battling for more than two years, due to the severe drought. Ageing water infrastructure has worsened the crisis of water supply.

Monyatso Mahlatsi, trade union provincial secretary, said the extended use of privately owned trucks sourced by the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality to deliver water to the villages was not a sustainable solution.

“It will deplete the resources of the municipality, which continues to accrue debt with institutions like Eskom,” Mahlatsi said.

He said the call was necessitated by the fact that water provided by trucks were not enough, and delivery also not done regularly.

Cosatu has also raised concerns about boreholes which have gone dry, with only mud being pumped up. The trade union is of the view that if municipality authorities rope in SANDF troops, this could alleviate the financial burden and ensure that water delivery is consistent.

According to Vusi Tshabalala, Maluti-a-Phofoung mayor, water levels at the Fika Patso Dam, which supplies 80% of water consumed by residents of the area, was low – at 8%.

Tshabalala said the ministry of water and sanitation had endorsed a R1,6 billion proposal for the construction of a water pipeline that would direct water from Sterkfontein to Fika Patso. He said a three-year, long-term plan would be executed in phases.

Currently, the authority has sourced 56 water tanker trucks to supply water to residents, and plans to clamp down on occupants not adhering to water restriction policies.

Tshabalala said the municipality would roll out its R20 million water catchment reservoir in February 2017 to retain water flowing into the Vaal River from the many rivers running through Qwaqwa.

“We persist in our call on the municipality and Department of Water Affairs, Fisheries and ­Forestry to move with speed in bringing a permanent solution to the water crisis in Qwaqwa,” Mahlatsi said.

  • Leona Kleynhans, DA member in the Free State Legislature, blames the crisis also on the ANC-governed and cash-strapped Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality’s inability to address the problem.

“The ANC tells the people that the cause of all the water problems is the drought. El Niño, they say.

“We have investigated these claims, and found it to be false. While the level of the Fika Patso Dam is quite low, the municipality is still pumping water from it every day. The water from several boreholes is also added to this water and flows in a bulk pipeline to be distributed in Qwaqwa.

“However, millions of kilolitres, at least 60% of the purified water, flows out into the veld within a kilometre of the purification works,” said Kleynhans during her address in the legislature on Monday, 21 November.

She said the water crisis facing Qwaqwa residents demanded urgent national intervention.

“In addition to several letters to the municipal manager of ­Maluti-a-Phofung, I have written to Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, requesting her department to address this water crisis,” said Kleynhans.

She said the Maluti-a-Phofung Water entity was massively under-resourced and that the water crisis was the direct result of the municipality’s fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“The ANC-governed Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality is one of the worst-governed municipalities in the country.

“It came in fourth nationally for fruitless and wasteful expenditure. R78 million is quite an achievement in looting,” said Kleynhans.

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