Hundreds march in Free State over water shortages
Moqhaka Local Municipality in Kroonstad blames loadshedding for supply issues
Hundreds of frustrated Maokeng residents marched to Moqhaka Local Municipality offices in Kroonstad, Free State, on Monday to demand uninterrupted water supply.
According to the community’s memorandum of demands, they want the municipality to install generators for water supply equipment to alleviate problems with water distribution during loadshedding. They also want more housing allocations by June 2023, lower electricity tariffs and for potholed roads to be fixed, among other issues.
Residents of Phomolong township say they have been battling water issues for over 20 years. They rely on the municipality’s water tanks but say this service isn’t always reliable and they can go weeks without access to water. They then have to walk more than two kilometres to the nearest township, carrying heavy buckets filled with water.
“It’s been years that I’ve been struggling with water. I’ve been going to the municipality, but no one was willing to help,” said Josephine Malebatsi.
Since November many communities in Kroonstad have been getting water sporadically.
March organiser Themba May said representatives had talked to senior municipal officials in December “and they promised that everything was okay”. But “after two weeks the water and everything started collapsing,” he said.
Mayor Motloheloa Mokatsane accepted the protesters’ memo. Municipal spokesperson Dikwe Khwesa said, “Some of the issues highlighted are the basic municipal services and we are committed to respond within the timeframe … We are aware of places like Phomolong that have a history of non-supply of water. We have looked into the matter and a tender is currently out to try and address the infrastructure issue in that area.”
In response to complaints about severe water interruptions in December, Khwesa said that unprecedented periods of stage 4 and 6 of loadshedding impacted the municipality’s water treatment and supply.
On 13 January, the Moqhaka Local Municipality’s request for key water plants to be exempted from power outages was approved. However, most communities are still without daily running water.
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