‘No more tankers’

2019-05-21 16:16
Mayor Themba Njilo on Monday visited Henley Dam residents who had blockaded Moses Mabhida Road over not having water.

Mayor Themba Njilo on Monday visited Henley Dam residents who had blockaded Moses Mabhida Road over not having water. (Nompilo)

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After several weeks of having no water, the anger of an Edendale community bubbled into the streets on Monday as they blocked roads and stopped others from leaving the area. 

Scores of residents from the upper Edendale areas were unable to get to work or school on Monday as Henley Dam, Taylor’s Halt and Elandskop residents blocked off Moses Mabhida Road at several points over not having water for the past three weeks. Hundreds of irate Henley Dam residents blocked the road with burning tyres and branches.

Nkokhelo Dlamimi, a resident, said they suspect their water supply was switched off intentionally because water tanker tender contracts had to be fulfilled by Msunduzi Municipality officials. “We are fed up with these water tankers because they supply dirty water and our children are constantly sick. Depending entirely on water stored in containers and bottles is inhumane,” he said. “We asked that the municipality installs water meters so we can have a reliable source of water. We don’t mind paying for our water. Many promises were made by Mayor Themba Njilo but were never kept.”

Dlamini said water problems in the area date back to 2012. He added that there was one specific municipal worker who came into the area to switch their water on and off, allegedly as he pleased.

Bu Ngcobo, the induna in the area, said the last time they had running water was three weeks ago. The water only ran for about five minutes then their taps ran dry again, he said. “Residents have to go to work with water bottles in their cars every day so they can come back with water to drink and bath. Those who don’t have cars have to walk to neighbouring townships to try and get water.”

Mayor Njilo, along with deputy mayor Thobani Zuma, City speaker Jabu Ngubo and chief whip Truman Magubane, formed the council delegation that went to address the angry protesters. When they arrived, the protesters reignited the burning barricade and started singing.

Addressing a handful of community representatives on the side of the road, Zuma said the water supply scheme in the area no longer had the capacity to meet the demand. “The water scheme was created to supply water for a certain amount of people and we did not foresee the increase of people in these areas. Even before the influx of new residents, the water scheme could not fully supply water therefore we had to switch off supply at some areas to allow other areas to also have water.”

Zuma said there were ongoing processes to upgrade the water scheme in the area and asked residents to bear with them. In the meantime, water will be supplied by water tankers.

Mayor Njilo said one of their water reservoirs, which is the main reservoir, was recently vandalised. “Someone sabotaged the reservoir and left the water gushing overnight. The reservoir is currently at seven percent and it cannot supply water until it’s at 40%.”

The mayor said he would call for two water tankers to bring water for the residents but the residents demanded that they switch on their water supply to see if there is really no water in the reservoirs.

After the mayor left to address residents in Taylor’s Halt and Elandskop, the Henley Dam crowd was dispersed by members of the Public Order Policing (POP) unit using rubber bullets and teargas.

Ngcobo said one young man was shot on the leg and taken to Edendale hospital. He said a municipal TLB had begun clearing the road on Monday afternoon. There were no reports of any arrests. “We are not happy with how the matter was handled by the municipality. They just came here to tick off their checklist that they addressed us, but nothing was resolved. We are still without water,” said Ngcobo.

Taxi conductors protest against bad treatment 

In another protest in Azalea, a group of taxi conductors blockaded the main intersection between Azalea and Imbali Unit 18 with rocks and burning tyres, frustrated that they are not being treated with dignity by their employers.

Nkulu Cele, a taxi conductor, said their protest was directed at taxi owners within the Azalea and Unit 18 Taxi Association.

He said this follows the death of a taxi conductor while on duty and taxi owners refusing to assist and contribute towards his funeral.

Cele said his colleague was run over while calling for passengers outside Edendale Mall. “He died while on duty, but the association did nothing to assist with his funeral arrangements. Only two members from the association attended his funeral. It’s really unfair that we are treated like we don’t matter. We want reassurance from taxi owners that if we die or get injured while on duty, we will be taken care of, not discarded like we don’t matter,” said Cele.

The group of about 50 taxi conductors said they would barricade the roads until they are addressed by the taxi owners.

Attempts to get comment from SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) or the Azalea and Unit 18 Taxi Association were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest action
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