By Buhle Andisiwe Made
As the student shutdown of Rhodes University campus against water cuts entered its second day on 9 May, a petition against the deteriorating state of water in Makhanda was also picking up speed.
The Makana Municipality has had an ongoing water crisis, which has worsened in the past year and a half. The municipality has been unable to remedy the problem, and has severely restricted water, implementing water shedding every night and establishing a “two days on, one day off” system.
However, some areas do not even get that amount of water – as of May 8, some areas of Makana had been without water for more than 20 days, resulting in an emergency. Councillors have remarked that a lack of maintenance, planning, and consequence management is primarily to blame.
On April 26, the Makana council noted that workers who had not been paid overtime had purposefully limited the provision of water to people. It is worth noting that the magnitude of Makana’s water issue affords the Municipal Manager jurisdiction to implement emergency procurement and engage private contractors to execute Makana’s water management responsibility.
DA councilor Geoff Embling is responsible for the petition and states, “We really really need to push it this week”. Embling has distributed the petition online and physically to Red Cafe, PostNet, van Schaik Bookstore (all situated next to one another at the top of Hill Street), and Aquaflow Aluminum at 10 Dundas Street – these shops will also have blank petitions for residents to take home and fill in.
The petition will be collected for data collection by the end of this week. Furthermore, the data will be submitted to the Department of Water & Sanitation and Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs the following week.
Embling says “Please could residents make a concerted effort to work on these petitions and get them filled in this week. The data we will collect from the petitions will be invaluable in our efforts to publicize the crisis and get a private contractor to take over the water management of Makana.”
Those interested in participating in the petition have until the end of this week and can access the petition on the Google Docs link: https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1htk73dbDUugjlswXCaSVA1vYEqGvuwap/mobilebasic?urp=gmail_link