by THAPELO MATLALA
Ongoing water shedding and sewage spills in Makhanda, and the undrinkable quality of the water remain a heavy burden for residents to bear.
Grocott’s Mail caught up with people who were walking home through Extension Seven on the evening of Valentine’s Day, 14 February. They poured their hearts out about the municipality’s inability to provide them with clean and drinkable water.
Emihle Tyhili of Eluxolweni said the water was of such poor quality that her hair had been damaged and she had suffered from skin acne, pimples and a body rash.
According to Melumzi Ngxuku of Khayelitsha, situated behind Extension Seven: “We were only given two taps to service the area. How can the whole area use those those taps? Sometimes they are not working. Then we are required to go to eThembeni to fetch water.”
Ngxuku added that there were water outages in Khayelitsha for days on end.
“Sometimes there is no water, sometimes there is water. We don’t wash, we don’t cook, we can’t do anything. How will kids go to school without bathing? If you want your kid to learn, you’ll just take them even if there’s no water. Water is everything, it’s used for everything in the house. If there is no water, what is it that we are supposed to do?” Ngxuku asked.
Moshiwe Mafongosi, also of Khayelitsha, said that she struggles a great deal as a mother with the water outages. “I get water from Extension Seven. On days that there is no water, I have to ask for it from my neighbours and sometimes in those households that have taps” said Mafongosi.
Linda Boyi of Transit Camp told Grocott’s Mail that she was very unhappy about regular water outages and taps that were not working.
Some residents said water outages and water and sewage leakages were to be expected in an ageing water system, and that people should also blame climate change for the water problems.
“I would like to say that we can’t only blame the government or municipality that there is no water,
because we have climate change. We need to pray together because climate change impacts us all. It affects officials in the government” said Lulamile Mawaba of Extension Seven.
Mawaba added that the situation should improve if the sewage pipes were replaced.
“But in order for that to happen, the people need to cry out loud and ask why there isn’t any water. We need to work together as Ubuntu in Rhini, because we do really have a sewage leakage and water problem” he added.
On the other side of town, Ward Four’s councillor, Geoff Embling, was kept busy dealing with complaints on Valentine’s Day after a ghastly and foul smelling sewage spill flooded out at the corner of Durban and Rivett Streets in West Hill, flowing downhill through the suburb.
A municipal report tabled at the recent Infrastructure portfolio committee on 9 February revealed underspending on vehicle repairs and plumbing materials, echoed by a shortage of fleet. “Allegedly, Makana’s seven plumbers who attend to all pipe repairs, have one functioning bakkie between them. The chronic lack of vehicle maintenance and supplies boils down to supply chain procurement and the finance department withholding budgets which have been approved by council” said DA councillor Geoff Embling.
“A lot of our water is escaping via water leaks. The Drury Lane water leak took two years to fix and it had an absolutely massive amount of water running out, like a river. The storage tanks run dry because of these big water leaks and then we do not get water, or it runs out in the afternoon. It is a simple matter that they do not attend to the massive water leaks that we complain about all the time” Embling added.
(Makana municipality had not responded to questions at the time of going to press. This story will be updated when Makana municipality’s comment is received).