Frustrations rise as drought deepens

2015-11-11 06:00
The Thukela Bulk Water Supply is still under construction and will only be functional mid 2016.  Photo: jyothi laldas

The Thukela Bulk Water Supply is still under construction and will only be functional mid 2016. Photo: jyothi laldas

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FRUSTRATIONS are flaring in the KwaDukuza Municipality as residents in many areas go without running water for days at a time.
Some areas have not had water for five to seven days continuously and residents claim that water tankers are not supplying these areas at all.
The Stanger Weekly spoke to residents who are caught in the midst of the drought.
Ward 13 resident Ronelle Pillay said they have not had water for six days in a row. “The water tanker only visited once. Where is the councillor of ward 13? What is he doing about this? We understand that our country is experiencing a drought but why is the government not doing anything to help us?”

Another frustrated resident Carla Niemand said: “No water trucks have been sent to the Stanger Manor and Newtown areas. When you call iLembe’s after hours number to see where you can collect water, they inform us to collect at the offices in Haysom Road. When you reach there, the security guard refuses to let you in. I have been turned away by him twice. He just says look at the time, not the time to collect water.”
She went on to say that due to working hours, many people can only collect water at night.

“I want to know what is iLembe going to do to assist us. I live in the Newtown area and we have been with out water now for a week and not once has the water tanker come.”

While many are expressing their anger and frustration, some members of the community have decided to become the short term solution.
A group of Muslim residents have banded together to supply water to residents in need.

According to Muhammed Suleman Bapeekee who is part of the team distributing water, the idea to gather whatever resources were available and distribute water free of charge to the community came from a causal conversation.

“Utilising a combination of vehicles and trailers with water tanks the community effort began on Saturday, 31 October with a distribution of 3000 litres of water to the residents of Lindelani and Shakaville. The gesture was well received and a decision was taken to expand the efforts.

“Armed with a team of dedicated volunteers together with a few sponsorships from companies that manufacture 5l and 20l plastic bottles as well as 20l buckets the effort gathered momentum. A few private individuals with boreholes that had potable (drinking) water offered us the use of their resources to fill the containers that were received free of charge. By Sunday evening we had distributed about 180 000 litres of water to various areas.”

Meanwhile, rumors are spreading that the iLembe District Municipality is not receiving water because they have not paid their bill to water provider Umgeni Water.

Umgeni Water corporate stakeholder manager Shami Harichunder confirmed there is no outstanding debt owed to Umgeni Water by iLembe.
“iLembe District Municipality has been and remains up to date with payment. Umgeni Water and iLembe District Municipality continue to enjoy cordial relations.”

Speaking about the situation at Umvoti Water Treatment Plant, Harichunder said it is a major concern.
“The level of the Umvoti River – which is the source of supply to Umvoti Water Treatment Plant – is extremely low. This has resulted in there being insufficient water available to treat at the plant in order to meet normal demand. As a consequence, Umgeni Water has only been able to supply iLembe four million litres of potable water per day from an average of 18 million litres of potable water per day. This has resulted in water restrictions within the Umvoti Water Treatment Plant supply areas.”Regarding the Hazelmere Dam, Harichunder said the dam level is currently – as of Monday – at 26%. “The water resource availability in Hazelmere Dam remains of concern; therefore potable water production at Hazelmere Water Treatment Plant has been cut by 30% in order to ensure that water in the dam lasts until the next rains. This means, in effect, that consumers have reduced water usage by 30%.” Harichunder said t­he ­prediction of the rainy season by experts did “not hold out the prospect of immediate good rainfalls”.

“If rains are not received in the coming weeks, the levels of dams will continue to reduce, thereby making for a difficult situation,” he said.

In a statement released by the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), MEC NomusaDube-Ncube condemned ongoing attempts to politicise the prolonged drought by blaming its harsh impact and cost on alleged government inaction.

“Let us be clear about the fact that the current drought is a natural disaster and we in provincial government have co-opted our counterparts in national government and the municipalities to ease the devastating impact of this drought on our communities,” said Dube-Ncube.

“National departments are working directly with municipalities to procure water tankers, drilling boreholes, providing plastic tankers and other interim measures. To date the National Department of Water and Sanitation made available R352 million, while the National Disaster Management Centre made available R24 million. This money has gone to the affected districts in KZN to mitigate the impact of the drought. The province need more than R1,6 billion to respond to this challenge adequately.”

iLembe will hold a briefing shortly to discuss the outcome of meetings mayor Welcome Mdabe had with MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Mike Mabuyakhulu regarding a desalination plant and with minister for Water Affairs and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane regarding the drought relief fund.

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