Taps dry for months

2016-06-14 12:58
KwaPata residents use a plastic bottle to direct the water from a burst pipe that has been running for months to make a tap.

KwaPata residents use a plastic bottle to direct the water from a burst pipe that has been running for months to make a tap. ( Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Three months with no water and no light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s the daily reality faced by Azalea residents in Edendale, who have been forced to brave the icy weather and walk more than 10 kilometres each day to a neighbouring area to fetch buckets of water.

Residents said it has been almost three months since their taps ran dry, and there has been no word from Msunduzi Municipality on when the water there will return.

“One morning there was just no water. We thought it was related to the drought, but now it has been months and still there is no water,” said one of the residents, who asked not to be named.

Residents now have to walk a great distance from their homes in Azalea to community taps in KwaPata. Some residents said at times “even the taps in KwaPata are dry and we are forced to get water from the river”.

“The situation is so bad here and we have been abandoned by the municipality. The water in the river is dirty, but we are left with not much of a choice,” said the resident.

She said the community “don’t bother” to call their ward councillor or the municipality as “they don’t care about us anyway”.

Upon visiting the area yesterday, The Witness found a line of residents waiting to fill 20-litre buckets with water. One resident had a wheelbarrow with three buckets to help him with the uphill walk.

Azalea resident Pinky Ngubane said the walk back to their homes carrying the buckets of water was strenuous.

“We have to help the elderly people in our area too. Some of them cannot carry their buckets of water back to their homes, so we all have to help them carry and it is heavy,” she said.

Ngubane said residents queue for water daily before going to school or work.

Another problem the residents face is that they do not know when the water tankers will arrive. A resident said the tankers usually arrive when everybody is at work or school.

The residents called for a timetable from the municipality to let them know more about the water shortages.

“We understand that maybe this is part of the drought, but the municipality should let us know what is going on. We cannot have no water day and night for more than two months. What makes it even worse is that they never cut water in the other nearby sections,” said the resident.

Residents said life had become a “struggle” in the past three months.

A few metres down the road, another community water “tap” being used by struggling residents was left open with clean water gushing out. There is no handle on the tap so there is no way to close it.

“This tap runs like this all day and night. We come and get water from here, but there is no way to close it and the municipality does not come into these areas to fix it,” said another resident.

The Witness photographed numerous leaks from the entrance of Edendale through to Azalea.

Acting Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said most parts of Edendale were high-lying areas, hence the lack of water.

“Since there is not enough pressure to pump the water up to their households, certain areas in Imbali and Edendale will be more affected than others,” she said.

Although Madonda said water tankers had been increased to all the most affected areas, Azalea residents said they had never seen a water tanker in their area.

“The continued burst pipes are due to the air that is introduced to the system when there is no water in the pipelines and the aged infrastructure,” she added.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  water

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