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Price of water skyrockets on supply deterioration in Ea...



Price of water skyrockets on supply deterioration in Eastern Cape

The mayor of the Amathole District Municipality, Khanyile Maneli. (Photo: Supplied)

Referring to the collapse of the Amathole District Municipality, a major water services municipality providing water to areas like Butterworth, Peddie, Bedford, Adelaide, Stutterheim and hundreds of smaller villages, Nontando Ngamlana from the East London-based NPO Afesis-Corplan said the price of water delivered to homes has skyrocketed.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Grannies are paying R100 for 25 litres of water delivered to their homes by wheelbarrow while water “entrepreneurs” are charging up to R2,000 for a tank of water in Peddie as ongoing water supply issues persist in the Eastern Cape.

Referring to the collapse of the Amathole District Municipality (ADM), a major water services municipality providing water to areas like Butterworth, Peddie, Bedford, Adelaide, Stutterheim and hundreds of smaller villages, Nontando Ngamlana from the East London-based NPO Afesis-Corplan said the price of water delivered to homes has skyrocketed.

She said they were working with rural women suffering from cervical and breast cancer, and it was heartbreaking to see how they were struggling to access water to keep themselves clean and to aid in their recovery.

“And then we are not even talking about Covid-19,” she said. “If the water situation deteriorates any further, we will see people spending what little money they have to get some water.”

Community activist, author, businessman and founder of the Abantu Integrity Movement, Mkhuseli “Khusta” Jack, said he was stunned to hear that people in Peddie were paying R2,000 for water tanks to be filled. Peddie, as the seat of the Ngqushwa Municipality, also falls under the ADM and depends on it for water.

“There is no water in Peddie. I think … Dr Nkosasana Dlamini Zuma is oblivious about what is happening on the ground. Everywhere you go [in] the Transkei, Mthatha and Mount Ayliff, people are struggling for water.”

The municipality’s mayor, Khanyile Maneli, said this week that they suffered damages owing to sabotage of water infrastructure by striking workers. On 23 December, the Labour Court ruled that the strike was unlawful.

“Although the illegal strike has … been suspended, ADM incurred more than R19-million in … costs,” a spokesperson for the municipality, Nonceba Madikizela-Vuso, said.

“Water supply has been restored in some parts of the district while we … fix vandalised infrastructure. Consequence management for employees who went on the illegal industrial strike is under way,” she added.

The ongoing drought and vandalism have also caused water outages in other parts of the province. Nkululeko Petros, who came to visit his family in Steytlerville over the festive season, said he was shocked to find that water was only available for a few hours a day.

“There were water cuts from 6pm to 6am every morning. On Christmas Day we did not have water after noon. We only had two 25 litre containers of water and we were 11 people in the house…”

On Monday, the Dr Beyers Naudé Local Municipality, the water services provider for the area, said reservoir levels were low due to borehole pump failures in Steytlerville.

In December, the Dr Beyers Naudé Local Municipality also reported that in Graaff-Reinet theft and vandalism had taken two of the boreholes, the only source of water for the town, out of commission. Repairs were done in the week of 21 December. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.


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  • The article title is a bit incorrect. It states, ‘Price of water skyrockets on supply deterioration in Eastern Cape’. Supply is to do with the ‘source’ or ‘amount’. Its not that there is NO water in these areas. The problem is that it is not properly managed and the infrastructure to pump, transfer and store the water resource is either broken, disfunctional – or, as the article says, vandalised. What is desperately needed in these municipalities is a decent water audit, followed by professional and on-going monitoring and management of the resource and its associated infrastructure. Monitoring and proper technical/scientific management of water supply is seriously lacking in many parts of SA. Rural communities also need to take ownership of their resource and supply. I worked in these areas in the late 1980s and early 1990’s developing groundwater supplies to 100’s of rural villages. Without some community ownership/partnership, the supply – including infrastructure – is doomed to failure.

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