WATCH: No water in Willowfountain

2018-01-17 13:30
Willowfotein residents getting water from a tanker that comes once a week.

Willowfotein residents getting water from a tanker that comes once a week. (Nokuthula Ntuli)

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Rusty taps that stand proudly in people’s yards are a constant reminder that Willowfountain residents once had access to running water on their doorsteps.

For three years now they have had to rely on water tankers.

When the taps first ran dry Msunduzi Municipality apparently told them it was because of the drought that gripped the province at the time but although heavy rains have since fallen, not a single drop has come from their taps.

“We would understand if it came and went but it just doesn’t come at all and the tanker only comes once a week and we get just enough to cook and bath.

“We are forced to walk more than a kilometre to the Wilgefontein River if we want to wash linen,” said Nokuthula Nxumalo.

Nxumalo and her sister-in-law, Nonzukusi Mpuphu, used to plant vegetables so they could supplement their meagre income but their plot of land has been lying fallow since the water was cut off.

Two of the reportedly six tankers belonging to Durban’s Multi Solution Plant arrived at the Bulwer area while The Witness was visiting on Tuesday.

Many of the residents rushed to the main road where the tankers made numerous stops to fill up empty containers lining the verges, but Alfred Vidima (76) and his mother-in-law, Emily Ntombela (88), who live more than 800 metres from the road, had to wait for their neighbour, Sizani Mchunu (54), to help.

“I have arthritis and cannot carry anything heavy and my mother-in-law is way too old. She can’t even walk around the yard without assistance.

“If it was not for Mrs Mchunu we would have died a long time ago because no one can live without water,” said Vidima.

Vidima’s wife died in 2009 and his children have got married and live in other parts of the province.

Tsubase Gumede ran after the tanker for three stops after it passed her house as she tried to get as much water as she could.

She said she was scared of going to the river to do her laundry because someone was recently bitten by a snake on their way there.

“ When it was cut off I’d just spent more than R5 000 on two vacuum cleaners and a high pressure cleaner because I wanted to open a car wash and now that stuff is just sitting there gathering dust,” she said.

Gumede also has to do laundry daily because of her brother’s ill-health, which causes him to soil the bed linen and his clothes. “This water thing is costing me my sanity,” she said, shaking her head in frustration.

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Some residents suspected that some municipal officials were intentionally cutting off the water supply so that they could give the tenders to provide tankers to their friends.

“Even areas that were hard hit by the drought like Jozini now have water so Msunduzi needs to explain to us what is happening here.

“Plus last year we had heavy rains in the region. Surely that must have filled up the dams,” said Zandile Mncube.

Msunduzi spokesperson Siyabonga Hlongwa apologised to the affected communities for the inconvenience, saying the area was still under the 15% water restriction due to the persistent drought.

“The supply of water into the area of Willowfountain is dependent on water supply from the Azalea Reservoir.

“Only if this reservoir is at 50% can the pumps be switched on to supply Willowfountain areas.

“The Msunduzi water department has been technically managing this scenario with an intention to try and supply water to the Willowfountain community every second day but there are days when there isn’t enough water up to the required level in this reservoir,” explained Hlongwa.

As an additional intervention, Hlongwa said, boreholes have been drilled in these areas to assist with water supply.

Sizani Mchunu getting water from the tanker.

Asiphe Mngomezulu pushing one of five loads of water he has to collect when the tanker comes to Willowfontain. 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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