Rubber gasket leaves city dry Pmb

2016-11-25 09:13
PMB and Durban residents vent their frustrations over yet another water-less day.

PMB and Durban residents vent their frustrations over yet another water-less day. (File)

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Over a dozen suburbs in Msunduzi were left high and dry after Umgeni’s maintenance shutdown plan malfunctioned.

Umgeni Water was nearing the tail-end of their 30-hour shutdown for maintenance work on Wednesday when a major failure occurred during the start-up process.

Upon start-up of the Midmar Water Works, a rubber gasket on a 1 600 diameter pipeline ruptured, said Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder.

“The workers had to rectify the situation by modifying parts of the pipeline, which involved cutting and welding in sections,” he said.

This was the fifth out of six maintenance shut-downs for the year.

Umgeni Water’s operations general manager, Msizi Cele, said the unscheduled repairs of the failure meant production of water had to stop again.

Suburbs across Msunduzi and eThekwini municipalities were left without water as reservoirs ran dry.

Speaking to The Witness during a Msunduzi executive committee meeting yesterday, Cele said repairs on the failure were further delayed as a storm on Wednesday night did not allow work to continue. “The repairs included welding and everyone knows that you cannot weld during rain,” Cele said.

He said the repair took a long time as workers had to first drain the 1,6-metre pipe that runs through the point of where the failure occurred.

Cele said that “if all goes well” during the second start up attempt on Thursday, water would return to residents by late last night.

“We expect the situation to normalise in terms of production but this does not mean that everyone will get water straight away. We still have to fill up the reservoirs,” Cele said.

Msunduzi Water and Sanitation manager Brenden Sivparsad said around 12 suburbs were already without water for more than 24 hours on Thursday. These included Prestbury, Clarendon, Masons, City Centre, Bisley, Oribi, Ashdown, Caluza, Snathing, Upper Newtown, Willowfontein, France, Paramount and Vulindlela.

Sivparsad said he was inundated with calls from frustrated residents who did not have water. “School examinations had to be rescheduled in Imbali and Vulindlela. We don’t even have water to fill the water tankers to take them to the schools,” Sivparsad said.

“It is definitely a crisis,” he said.

Sivparsad reiterated that once Msunduzi receives full supply, the lowest reservoirs would fill up first. “While the shutdown is over on Umgeni’s side, we still have lots to co-ordinate on our side,” he said.

Sivparsad said he had a team on standby through the night as they expected an influx of burst pipes. “We are appealing to residents to remain patient as the water flow returns to your tap. Also please report burst pipes to our call centre,” he said.


Frustrated residents took to social media to rant about their water woes.

Geneisha Kundalram said Hilton and surrounding areas were without water from Wednesday at 1 pm.

Carmen Marx said Signal Hill had no water since noon on Wednesday.

Hilton resident Vernon Van Heerden said he was left without water for two days.

“What was even more frustrating was that when I called the municipality, they said I should call Umgeni. But Umgeni told me to call my municipality,” he said.

Van Heerden said he even called the presidential hotline, which was offline.

“I called to speak to [President Jacob] Zuma or [Cyril] Ramaphosa, but neither were available. No one cares. They should just shut down the municipality and shut down the government because they are all useless,” Van Heerden said.

He said his pets were starving for water and the municipal call centre agent allegedly told him they could not send a water tanker to his area.

Edendale resident Nqobile Nqobza Khanyile said residents should have been notified on Wednesday about the problem so they could have better prepared.

Camperdown, Merrivale, Pinetown, Sweetwaters, Hillcrest and Howick were also without water for more than 24 hours.

Hilton resident and DA councillor Pam Passmoor said Hilton and Winterskloof were without a drop of water since 8 am on Wednesday.

“As the filling of the reservoirs is done on a bottom-up approach ... we will be the last. We are not expecting water before later tonight [Thursday],” Passmoor said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  water crisis

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