Water crisis: Residents queue for hours as dams dry up in Eastern Cape municipality

2019-11-14 20:21
The Gcuwa dam is now dry. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

The Gcuwa dam is now dry. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

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All dams supplying Butterworth and surrounding areas in the Eastern Cape are dry, GroundUp reports.

Amathole District Municipality spokesperson Nonceba Madikizela-Vuso said 33 boreholes have now been drilled in Butterworth. Eight of these are equipped and operational, four are dry, four have water, but it is not fit for human consumption, and 17 are currently being tested.

Residents, who live next to boreholes sunk at Butterworth Hospital and Butterworth High School, said the boreholes stopped working on Tuesday.

In October, the municipality announced that it needed R944m to fight drought in the district.

The Butterworth water crisis has been long in the making. In December 2015, the Mnquma Local Municipality was declared a drought disaster area by then-Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle.

When GroundUp visited Butterworth last week, residents were queuing for hours for water provided by a tap inside a building, and fed by a borehole. Many people arrived in cars with drums for water.

Resident Anelisa Mathe from the Cuba informal settlement said there was only one tap but it was better than nothing.

"We want a permanent solution. The municipality must build proper dams to feed our taps," added Mathe who had been queuing since 07:00.

"I understand why people have brought big drums. I'm only crossing fingers that the water does not run out before I get [to the head of the queue]," she said.

Nolitha Kobese had brought five 20l buckets. "I've been here since 08:00. I left my buckets here, went to town, and I'm back now. As you can see, there are more than 10 people in front of me with many buckets," she said.

Taps ran dry months ago in surrounding villages, such as Ndabakazi and Kwezana, which are now depending on water tankers.

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  drought; water
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