Defend Truth


Communities demand answers as taps run dry in Komani while supply dam remains full

Communities demand answers as taps run dry in Komani while supply dam remains full
Faniswa Sitwayi says her family in Komani wake up early to queue for water at the communal tap before sunrise. They do not have access to running water during the day. (Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani)

Chris Hani District Municipality blames low revenue collection, ageing infrastructure, and rolling blackouts for water rationing.

Families in Komani (formerly Queenstown) are questioning why there are constant water outages in the town though the Bonkolo Dam is full. The Chris Hani District Municipality has blamed vandalism, decaying infrastructure, and rolling blackouts for water rationing.

The district municipality is responsible for water and sewage in the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality.

Last month, parts of the town were shut down during protests. The protesters demanded that the “dysfunctional” Enoch Mgijima Municipality be dissolved.

Families GroundUp spoke to say they wake up as early as 3am to collect water which only runs for about an hour. Some of the water tanks have been dry for months, they say.

The district municipality says its water supply comes from the Bonkolo, Waterdown and Xonxa dams. This water then has to be treated and purified for human consumption.

According to Buli Ganyaza, spokesperson for Chris Hani District Municipality, the current demand in Komani is 60 megalitres per day whereas the plant’s operating capacity is 40 megalitres per day.

The Komani water treatment works has two plants, one built in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Ganyaza says an upgrade is necessary to increase capacity in line with a growing population.

But residents believe the municipality is not doing enough to ensure that they have running water.

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Thulani Bukani of the Independent Komani Residents’ Association told GroundUp, “Water in the Enoch Mgijima Municipality is a crisis that gets worse every day. For many years we have been told by the district that we are a drought-stricken area.

“But the Bonkolo Dam is full of water and we are still hit hard by water outages. When we asked the district why these water outages are continuing, it blamed rolling blackouts.”

Bukani said water tankers are not reliable. “We live about three to five days without water.”

Faniswa Sitwayi from T&R Section said her family of seven have to wake up early to queue for water at the communal tap before sunrise. “The water comes out at about 4am and by 5am the tap is dry again. I have to wake early because I need water for my children to wash and eat porridge before school.”

Her son Endinakho is in grade 11 and helps his mother collect water in the mornings. He said, “It is exhausting. Sometimes I cannot concentrate in class because I don’t sleep enough.”

Bonkolo Dam

The Bonkolo Dam is full. It is one of three dams that supply water to communities in Komani. (Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani)

The district municipality’s Ganyaza told GroundUp that ageing infrastructure reduces operational capacity and causes pipe bursts. “This directly affects water losses. Water demand is higher than what is supplied to Komani. This can be attributed to population growth, an increase of new informal settlements, industrial businesses and communities.”

She said the current power outages result in more water cuts. “Water rationing has been ongoing since 2008. This was exacerbated by a prolonged drought which severely affected water supply in the district. Water rationing is still in place,” she said.

“Running costs for the service have drastically gone up. This has serious financial implications for the district municipality considering high fuel costs for backup generators which are now running longer than usual hours.

“The resources at our disposal for water carting are limited due to budgetary constraints and low revenue collection,” she said. DM

First published by GroundUp.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.