Empty promises leave residents thirsty

Empty promises leave residents thirsty"The (main) bulk line has been a subject of a lot of illegal connections in the communities through which it passes," said Mbombela Local Municipality Spokesperson Joseph Ngala

Residents of KaBokweni township situated just outside of Nelspruit have gone without an adequate fresh water supply for several months and their ongoing protests have fallen on deaf ears.

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Two young mothers fetching water from a dam which they share with animals

After the local government elections in August last year, the Mbombela Municipality was merged with Umjindi Municipality to become the first metropolitan for the province of Mpumalanga. This gave the local communities that had been hard hit by drought hope that their water challenges would be resolved. But while many election promises were made, nothing has been delivered.

Earlier this month, completely frustrated by inaction on the part of the municipal authorities, residents of KaBokweni and surrounding areas decided to block roads. They demanded that the municipality keep to their promise to supply clean water by speeding up the process of putting in new pipes.

Buying clean water

For several months the communities around Mbombela have had to buy clean water or rely on dirty water shared by livestock. Some of the water supply issues fall under Rand Water, which is trying to resolve problems on their side.

For several months the communities around Mbombela have had to buy clean water or rely on dirty water shared by livestock.

John Lubisi, one of the angry protesters, accused the Mbombela officials and politicians of delaying the processes to finishing laying the new pipes because they are benefiting through the water supply process that was put out on tender.

“Twenty years into democracy, but still our people have to share water with animals while others are living a better life,” said Phumla Zitha.

Pumping problems

The City of Mbombela’s Department of Water and Sanitation maintain they are working on resolving the issue as a matter of urgency. Rand Water is experiencing abstraction (pumping) problems at the Crocodile River where the water at the plant is insufficient to fill the demand on it. This is because excessive sand from the recent heavy rains is blocking the abstraction pipeline. The areas affected by the Nsikazi South Water Scheme problems are: Pienaar, Kabokweni, Hlau hlau, Kanyamazane and Gutshwa, including Themba Hospital.

The municipality’s water project is being implemented in phases and, when completed, will deliver an additional 20 megalitres of water to the community per day. However, the project is long term, which means that it will take another four to five years to complete.