Towns running dry

2018-06-27 06:02
Angry residents of Jagersfontein rioting over water supply. The water supply crisis started more than two years ago. Photos: Kekeletso Pitso

Angry residents of Jagersfontein rioting over water supply. The water supply crisis started more than two years ago. Photos: Kekeletso Pitso

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Supply of water to two towns, Fauresmith and Jagersfontein in the cash-strapped Kopanong Municipality, remains unchanged.

A temporary alternative to remedy the long-standing water crisis saw the Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela addressing residents on Thursday (21/06).

She then committed to engage Bloem Water to restore supply after it was disconnec­ted due to the Kopanong Municipality’s failure to pay the supplier a huge debt of reportedly almost R200 million.

Although the supply of water by Bloem Water has been restored after Ntom­bela’s visit, residents said supply is still restricted to the “legal limit” each day.

It is business as usual as scores of people are seen with wheelbarrows criss-crossing streets to fetch water at any available spot in the tiny Free State diamond mining town.

The water supply crisis to consumers of Jagersfontein, including the neighbouring town of Fauresmith, has worsen lately since the crisis started more than two years ago with the municipality unable to address the problem.

The Kopanong Municipality is one of the nine cash-strapped municipalities in the province placed under an intervention programme by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize.

So adverse is the water crisis in the two towns, health services were suspended recently, adding to the hardship of inhabitants.

The water problem saw angry residents embarked on violent protests.

It end up shutting-down Jagersfontein, demanding immediate intervention by the trouble-ridden Free State government to address the water crisis.

A resident of Phahameng, which is another settlement of Jagersfontein, said several people living on an incline in both the townships and in town are fortunate if they receive water for half an hour each day.

Kalkfontein Dam, located on the Riet River, is the main source of water for the two towns in the ANC-led Kopanong Municipality.

According to the Department of Water and Sanitation, the dam level remains critical at 34,67%, which compels residents to use water wisely.

With insufficient water supply, residents have raised grave concern over the quality of water, which reportedly has an unpleasant smell, fuelling criticisms from political parties that include the DA and EFF in the province, blaming authorities of the municipality.

  • After an oversight visit to assess the impact of the Kopanong Municipality’s failure to supply water to Jagersfontein, Patricia Kopane, DA leader in the Free State and Member of Parliament, said the party has laid a formal complaint with the South African Human Right Commission (SAHRC) over the human rights violation by the municipality. Watch the video on Express’s Facebook page.

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