By Ruvesen Naidoo
Recently, the community of Makhanda has been grappling with a series of pressing water-related challenges. Amongst the recurring water cuts and shortages, a glaring concern arises as the Makana Municipality appears to be overlooking the issue of burst pipes, displaying a deep lack of urgency in addressing and restoring these critical infrastructure failures.
Ayanda Kota, Makana Citizens’ Front Secretary and an activist in the Unemployed People’s Movement, told Grocott’s Mail that “40 % of water is wasted in this country due to leaks. Our municipality must be one of the worst and no attempt is made to save our precious water. Yet the same municipality is complaining that the volume of water they have is not enough for everyone and that we need more megaliters to cater for everyone’s needs.”
Like Kota, Philip Machanick, the chair of the Makhanda Residents Association (MRA), shares his discontent with Makana Muncipality’s lack of urgency in repairing water pipe bursts. “Why is there no apparent system for prioritising leak repairs?”, Machanick asked. He said he knew some water leaks that have been running for years and have damaged roads.
Over the past week, residents of Ward Four have posted several complaints about clean water leaking in the streets. “Water running down Lawrence St into George St, but I suppose it’s too far away from the Municipal office to tend to. It has been months but complaining won’t help” said one Ward Four resident on the community WhatsApp group. Another resident said “Nothing has come out of the taps at 14h00, but the leak in Frances St is bubbling away quite merrily,” pointing out the contradiction between water cuts happening at the same time as clean, treated water was allowed to leak out of pipes and run through the streets.
Rowan Engelbrecht, Community Policing Forum Sector Three Chairperson and a member of the Ward Eight committee says there is a leak in the main water pipe on Matthew Street in Fort England. “The Makana Municipality knows about it, they have been notified and it is still not repaired. It is wasting precious water”. He added that there is another “bad water leak” at the bottom of York Street in Fort England, and there is no sign that the municipality is repairing that leak either.
Ward Four councillor, Geoff Embling of the Democratic Alliance (DA), said “Water leaks are a major problem all over town. We report them all the time and they do not get fixed. There are supposed to be a few bakkies in the water team but only one water team can usually get out at a time. Even if the municipality steps us up to 20 megalitres per day on 24 July, and 40% of the water is wasted, we will still only get 12 megalitres and we need 18 megalitres”.
Grocott’s Mail sent Makana Municipality questions about the status of the repairs of these various water pipe leaks, but received no response.