COTTONLANDS residents in Verulam have been left without water for the past five weeks. Neelmathi Rambisasur (67), a pensioner taking care of her grandchildren at home, said she walks more than three kilometres to fetch water from a standpipe every afternoon: “We are no longer enjoying staying in this area. I have to go and follow a line at the standpipe at 6 pm. “I have to wait for more than three hours for other residents to fill their buckets before I fill my bucket.” Another resident, Thembisile Khuzwayo, appealed to officials to supply the community with alternatives while waiting for the situation to be resolved, saying: “I knock off from work at 7 pm, and have to walk about two kilometres to fetch water from a standpipe. I have been living in this area for many years and we never had a shortage of water.”Residents claimed that a water pipe burst when construction workers were building a cellphone tower earlier this year. Khuzwayo added: “Since then we have been experiencing water cuts. When we asked officials from the water department [at eThekwini] to check what could be the problem, we were told that the new Cell C tower had nothing to do with the shortage of water.”A 62-year old pensioner, Leela Singh said she uses a wheelbarrow to transport water from a local standpipe to her home: “How can an old woman like me walk so many kilometres to fetch water from a standpipe? If we are lucky water comes back from 8 pm to 12 pm. I have to keep water in pots, juice containers and buckets,” Singh said.When the Weekly visited the area on Monday, December 3, Singh and her neighbours held a meeting, attempting to find solutions to the water crisis. DA PR councillor Chris Langa said his office has been inundated with calls from furious residents reporting the matter: “I contacted the water department and they confirmed that there was a serious problem in Cottonlands reservoir that resulted in water shortages. They promised that residents will have access to water at their homes soon.” Ward councillor Fakazi Mdletshe urged the residents to report community issues to the “relevant structures” before approaching the media, saying: “Why are they [residents] complaining to the media? The issue was addressed and a water tanker was sent to the community. Thereafter nobody ever told me there was such a serious shortage of water. Residents must learn to work with me and community structures. They should have informed me first before approaching the media about this issue,” Mdletshe said.Attempts to obtain comment from the eThekwini Municipality were unsuccessful at the time of going to press.