Clinics and schools in at least two suburbs in Bloemfontein were forced to close after the water supply to the Mangaung municipality was reduced.

Bloem water cut water supply by between 30% and 70% after the metro failed to pay the installment on its account. The metro owes Bloem water about R270-million.

The water utility said the metro has not paid its account since June. The water reduction is affecting Wepener, Dewetsdorp, Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu.

This has forced clinics and schools in the suburbs of  Grassland and Turflaagte to close temporarily. People now have to travel to alternative clinics. Schools have also postponed exams. 

Residents unable to get medication

Provincial health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said affected clinic staff had been told to report for duty to facilities that remained open.

“We have asked our staff to report to duty at the clinics where there is water and diverted patients to the closed clinics to the operating clinics,” said Mvambi.

This has left patients scrambling to find the money for transport. 

Martha Motlhaping said she is now forced to use the little money she does have to pay for taxi fare to travel to a clinic further away to get her medication. 

“The municipality is failing us. This is tough as we are supposed to use the last money we have to take taxis to faraway clinics.”

Other residents have resorted to buying water from retailers. Nick de Lange of the Bloemfontein Rate Payers Forum said the situation is unfortunately not unusual for the area.

“It is unfair to pay for non-services and we are also taking the city to court so we keep our people with water,” he said.

Metro must pay

New Executive Mayor Mxolisi Siyonzana apologised to the community. “I will be meeting with the Bloem Water to resolve the matter.”

But Bloem Water’s Group Executive Operations Manager Maruping Rapudungoane said they will go back to court if they have to, to force the metro to settle its debt.

“The City has failed to honor the initially made agreement and we are hopeful that the new management will speedily resolve the matter. We are keeping the rate of the supply at 30percent,” he said.

DA councillor, Rossouw Botes, said financial reports show the metro received water revenue of over R511 million between August 2019 and October 2020. 

“Only R418 million was paid over to Bloem Water. The city retained more than R93 million in water revenue for purposes other than paying our massive debt and monthly water consumption account to Bloem Water,” said Botes. 

“This means theft in the eyes of residents who pay their account monthly, only to hear of looming water suspensions due to non-payment every few months.” – Health-e News