Water supply an ongoing crisis

2017-11-15 06:01

Insufficient water supply to consumers remains a pro­blem in the cash-strapped Kopanong Municipality.

The ongoing water supply crisis is experienced in nine towns administered by the ANC-led municipality.

Water problems follow the reduction by the supplier, Bloemwater.

This is due to the Kopanong Municipality’s failure to pay a huge debt of reportedly almost R200 million.

Bearing the brunt of the municipality’s non-payment, residents lament bitterly struggling for days to get drinkable water.

The supply of water by Bloemwater has been extremely restricted, and only the legal limit is allowed each day.

This applies to all nine towns under the beleaguered Kopanong Municipality’s jurisdiction.

“Residents living on an incline in both the townships and in towns are fortunate if they receive water for half an hour each day,” says one of the severely affected female residents.

“Many of the residents are elderly and disabled and the insufficient supply of water creates great hardship for them.

“I find it hard to understand that Bloemwater allows these huge debts to accumulate.

“The Kopanong Municipality dismally fails to pay and to deliver services to the people.”

The woman in her 50’s would not reveal her identity, citing fear of intimidation and victimisation.

An unemployed man in his mid-30’s, residing in the Itumeleng township, says he spends between three and five hours a week fetching water using a wheelbarrow.

“This is our daily job to look for and fetch water using wheelbarrows, instead of searching for work to earn an income,” he says.

It is a norm seeing people with wheelbarrows criss-crossing streets to fetch water in towns such as Trompsburg, Edenburg, Jagersfontein and Fauresmith.

A business owner laments the luring of investors due to the supply of water, and the Kopanong Municipality’s inability to render quality services.

“There can be no growth or investment in the platteland if issues of water and services are not addressed.

“No individual or business is currently willing to invest and no person wants to retire in an area where there is no guaranteed quality service delivery.

“There are all the negative elements associated with this issue – unemployment and crime trends have increased dramatically.

“Absolutely frustrating,” says the man.

In Jagersfontein the residents say the local diamond plant – Jagersfontein Developments – is reportedly responsible for the cleaning of the town and the suburbs of Itumeleng and Charlesville.

“They pay the labour, fuel costs and provide the trailer, and more,” says a source.

Some of South Africa’s leading banks have since disinvested in most towns within the Kopanong Municipality.

To this another business owner reacted: “People are very frustrated having to spend extra cash to travel to another town for banking services.

“The ATM service that some banks are rendering does nothing to change the situation for the people.

“We are bearing the brunt of government led by people who only care about themselves.

“When you advise officials about what works, then you’re labelled an outcast.

“Every remote town in the Free State is falling apart due to the inability of the municipalities to effectively manage money and understand the role of local municipalities,” says the business owner.

Marshall Madolo, technical manager of the Kopanong Municipality, concedes the municipality is experiencing serious water problems, compounded by poor revenue collection.

He says the supplier, Bloemwater, has since reduced the supply to 30% due to the municipality’s failure to meet the monthly required payment.

“The Kopanong Municipality is experiencing insufficient water supply due to payment of debt.

“Contributing factors include leakage of pipes and non-payment by consumers, of whom the majority are jobless.

“The region is very poor and revenue collection from paying residents is very low,” says Madolo.

The situation of the ANC-led Kopanong Municipality is so dire that all nine unit offices in the surrounding towns are currently reportedly experiencing telephone service difficulty and an intermittent service as a result of non-payment of their Telkom accounts.

Express’s repeated efforts of phoning the landlines were futile with the response “the service is currently not in use”.

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