Water shortage continues to cripple region

Ageing infrastructure has been blamed for crippling water shortages that saw a number of Eastern Cape municipalities go without water during the festive season.

Authorities were left with little option but to cart water to villages and townships in Joe Gqabi, Chris Hani and OR Tambo districts and Buffalo City Metro.

The DA said inadequate administrative capacity, vacant technical posts and ageing water reticulation infrastructure had led to various sporadic water interruptions across the province.

The party’s Kobus Botha said he planned to engage Local Government MEC Fikile Xasa regarding the various problems.

For more than a month, Barkly East residents in Joe Gqabi have been complaining of water problems.

It was the same in Middleburg in the Chris Hani district.

Inxuba Yethemba ward councillor Ludwe Zizi said their water problems occurred “regularly”.

“At times, water pumps are not working as our water comes from underground. This problem happens every six months.”

Middleburg’s Wilhelm Stahl Hospital board chairwoman Ada Sammy said people were pointing fingers and shifting the blame instead of solving the problem. “The hospital staff and patients have endured a lot of suffering because of this water problem.”

She accused farmers of deliberately puncturing water pipes to water their fields and allow their cattle to drink. “That affects the dam as it does not reach the required level.”

The Joe Gqabi municipality attributed the problems to ageing infrastructure and poor long-term maintenance.

The municipality said it was one of the few in the country that had not outsourced water provision.

Joe Gqabi’s Fiona Sephton said new pumps and filters had to be brought in to fix the problems. “The problem in Barkly East was that the water plant could not meet the demand and water carting trucks had to be used,” Sephton said.

The Chris Hani district also blamed its water problems on vandalism. District Spokeswoman Thobeka Mqamelo said technicians were fixing problems in the affected areas.

– Bongani Fuzile and Mbali Tanana 

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