Gauteng and NW Province

Local government’s promises remain as empty as their taps

Promises made to residents of Tshikota outside Makhado (Louis Trichardt) remain as empty as their dry taps.

During a mayoral meeting with residents in July to address the issue of the town’s chronic water shortages, the Makhado Municipality promised residents that their water supply would be restored after Tshikota residents threatened to revert to mass action, should this not happen immediately.

During a visit to Tshikota last week, Zoutnet found a group of residents so desperate for water that they broke open a municipal fire hydrant.

“We are suffering! We don’t know what else to do,” said residents, crowding around the fire hydrant. This was on Friday, 3 August, almost two weeks after the mayoral meeting.

According to Tshikota residents, the only place to get water is either from the fire hydrant or to buy it from one of the local schools, which has a borehole. The going rate for water at the school is R1 per litre, meaning that flushing a toilet once will cost one R20.

The taps of residents who are fortunate enough to have a water connection to their houses also run dry regularly. One woman showed the newspaper a copy of her municipal account – she only used three units of water for the month but still had to pay all the basic charges.

The Vhembe District Municipality was contacted and specific questions were put to the spokesperson, Mr Ralushai Matodzi, about water delivery in Tshikota. He was also made aware of the fact that the questions were meant to determine what progress had been made since the mayoral meeting on 18 July.

During this meeting, a board of technical directors blamed old infrastructure, a lack of funding, staff shortages and vandalism for the interruptions in water delivery, not only in Tshikota, but also in the rest of town. This time around, Matodzi blamed the current drought for the interruption in the water supply to town.

“The district is facing a dry spell with low level dams and dry boreholes (sic),” reads an SMS that Matodzi sent on Monday afternoon in response to the newspaper’s questions. “We are using tankers as a short-term intervention…” he said. On Friday, however, these tankers were nowhere to be seen in Tshikota.

Questions regarding how safe the water in the fire hydrant is to drink, were ignored.

The civil rights association AfriForum’s local chairperson, Mr Wally Schultz, was shocked at the district municipality’s latest excuse that the current drought is the reason for the water shortages. On Monday, the Albasini Dam was still just over 36% full. “It is disgusting, to say the least,” remarked Schultz.

According to Schultz, AfriForum was able to determine via an independent contractor that several of the borehole pumps situated in the Makhado area were in fact burnt out. This, he says, takes several days, if not weeks, to repair.
In the meantime, many residents are left baffled by water leaks that are left unrepaired.

“If it is so dry and the area is drought stricken, why are we wasting valuable water?” remarked one resident.

One can only wonder …

Zoutnet August 2012

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