Running water after 32 days

2015-11-25 06:22
 Photo: supplied The Stanger Manor Community Hall was filled beyond capacity on Thursday last week with residents looking for answers to KwaDukuza’s 32 daylong water crisis.

Photo: supplied The Stanger Manor Community Hall was filled beyond capacity on Thursday last week with residents looking for answers to KwaDukuza’s 32 daylong water crisis.

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RESIDENTS of KwaDukuza saw running water from their taps for the first time in 32 days last Thursday.
At a meeting held by the Concerned Citizens Movement at the Stanger Manor Community Hall, hundreds of residents heard how legal and illegal sand mining further up the Umvoti River (towards Glendale and Dendetu) caused water to be dammed drastically. This reduced flow to the abstraction point at the Umvoti Water Treatment Plant causing the water shortage which had residents up in arms.

Intervention, last week, by private business people who approached the iLembe District Municipality to clear the damming resulted in many taps in KwaDukuza receiving water on Thursday.

It was also revealed, by local businessman Amaresan Moodley - who was one of the main catalysts of the project to clear the illegal damming - that some of the “dams” held approximately 200 million litres of water each.

The complete clearing process took three days and the civilian team managed to assist at the pump station with a number of other issues such as reviving old boreholes in the river itself.

The meeting was attended by hundreds of frustrated KwaDukuza residents looking for answers.

Power Point presentations covered the hardship people faced as they reached day 32 with no water flowing from their taps.
Dr Roy Naicker, chairperson of the Concerned Citizens Movement, took the community on a pictorial journey detailing how volunteers from the community came together and identified the problem of more than 70 dams on the Umvoti, created by “unscrupulous” sand mining companies.

“These dams were preventing water from reaching the abstraction tower,” said Naicker.
Residents were then shown how millions of litres of water was released into the river as the heavy equipment broke the dams. (See more on page 15)

KwaDukuza has since had water at full pressure coming from their taps.

Naicker also thanked the Islamic Relief Committee led by Cassim Moola and the many residents who own boreholes for providing emergency relief to the community.

In a second presentation, the community was shown how the drought relief funds, close to R50 million, issued to the iLembe District Municipality were disbursed.
“It was obvious that many parts of the district, especially in KwaDukuza, did not benefit from the funds received by the district municipality,” said Naicker.

During the questions session, the community’s anger was evident, with many residents claiming that the iLembe District Municipality allowed the problem to worsen. They believe that iLembe made no attempt to get the river flowing for over a month forcing businessmen and the Concerned Citizens Movement to intervene.
Naicker said besides the tanker services which were dismally short, no other short term solution was offered.
“The placement of jojo tanks around the areas worst hit by shortages was something we did not see.”

Questions raised included: “Why is iLembe so silent?” “Why were there no borehole dug to augment supply? “Why did it take a whole month to discover the illegal damming of the river and why did iLembe not act?” “Now that we have water, what is the plan to conserve it and will iLembe be implementing reasonable restrictions and placing flow restricters?”“Why does KwaDukuza not have a dam and is there a plan to build one?” “Will we be billed for services that we did not receive during the 32 days?”
iLembe District Municipality was represented at the meeting by director of Corporate Governance Yvonne Mathonsi who promised to respond to all questions after she referred them to the technical staff who were not present at the meeting.

She did clarify that those who experienced their water units dropping in their meters, due to airflow, should go to the municipality with their complaint.

“It will be rectified and an air restricter will be installed in those meters.”

She added that since the sewerage cost is linked to the flow of water from the tap, residents will not be billed for this as well.

Naicker said he would await the response from the municipality before deciding on how to move forward on behalf of the community.
He did however, pledged to work with iLembe to find solutions and also stated that the Concerned Citizens Movement wants to be involved in deciding how the next amount of relief funds applied for which amounts to R320 million will be utilised as well as where the 50 jojo tanks, already purchased, would be placed.

The community is reminded that the drought is still a reality and water levels are still dropping. Residents are urged to use water sparingly.

Following the work in the run-up to the water crisis meeting on Thursday, the “Committee of Concern” met to formalise itself as it prepares to continue representing the interests of the community on various issues. At a meeting held on Friday, 20 November the committee formally adopted the name Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) and elected its office bearers.

Dr Roy Naicker was elected chairperson while Vis Pillay was chosen as vice chairperson. The secretary and treasurer are Pragash Naicker and Vinod Bodasing respectively. The communications portfolio was handed to Shesh Singh who was tasked with setting up social media platforms to ensure smooth and continuous information flow to the community.

Naicker explained that the objectives of the CCM would be broadened to include social empowerment and educational issues to the service delivery issues it is presently engaged in.

He said the long term goal would be to develop the CCM into an NGO modelled on organisations such as Right2Know.

“There are many in the community who need assistance with approaching government sectors such as police, justice, health and even education on matters that need resolving. We hope to build our capacity to be able to assist such persons,” said Naicker.

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