Dwindling water supply could lead to “job blood-bath” says Business Chamber

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality dams at 36%

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Photo of burst water pipe
A damaged communal tap in Powerline informal settlement, in Motherwell, overflowed for weeks before the municipality repaired it. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Business owners in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality say they may have to shut their doors if the municipality fails to find other sources of water soon.

The municipality is experiencing a devastating drought as five of its dams run critically low. The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber has accused the municipality of failing to implement water saving measures or bring in additional water supply to communities.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Chamber said that it had called on its over 700 member companies to start “using water sparingly” due to the alarmingly low dam levels. It stated that as of 26 September, the four supply dams Kouga, Churchill, Mpofu, Loerie and Groendal had reached a combined average capacity of 36%.

“If there is no constant flow of water in the metro, this would inevitably lead to a jobs blood-bath. Companies would be forced to close shop and leave thousands of breadwinners without their sources of income,” said Chamber CEO, Nomkhita Mona.

She accused the municipality of delaying the provision of portable water, despite getting funding from the National Treasury earlier this year. “We can not rely on any of the delayed municipal projects. The Nooitgedacht water scheme has ground to a halt due to a myriad of reasons. This is despite the City receiving R233 million from Treasury in April,” she said.

Mona said that the lack of clear communication and decisive plans from the municipality just added to businesses problems. “There have been no aggressive water saving campaigns to sensitise the Bay about the seriousness of this situation. We will continue to make this call and emphasise the urgency,” she said.

Spokesperson for Mayor Mongameli Bobani, George Geleba, said there were various plans in place to bring in new water sources into the city. He said Phase 3 of the Nooitgedacht water scheme was underway after a nearly 12-month delay due to insufficient funds at the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Geleba said they expected Phase 3 of the project to be completed by April 2021. The total cost of the project is R982 million.

In response to Mona, Geleba said that some of the R233 million given by Treasury, was used to upgrade water reservoirs while the bulk of they money was assigned to the construction of the new Coegakop Water Treatment Works. Geleba said the municipality was busy looking for other sources of water like boreholes. He also said reference numbers have been allocated to communal taps in informal settlements to easily identify them when they need repairs.

TOPICS:  Water

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