“I want to put my head on the block” –Minister Senzo Mchunu promises angry eThekwini residents tap water by April

Some parts of eThekwini have been without water for seven years

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Minister Senzo Mchunu addressing the community of KwaXimba on 22 February. Photo: Joseph Bracken

  • Taps are dry in KwaXimba in eThekwini, where some areas haven’t had water for seven years.
  • Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu addressed the community last week and promised they would have tap water by April.
  • But according to a media statement released after the meeting, the next project that could improve the situation will come on line only in May.
  • And the Upper Mkhomazi water scheme planned to resolve the problem is only scheduled for completion in 2030.

“I want to put my head on the block that in April water will be restored in the area,” Senzo Mchunu, Minister of Water and Sanitation, after arriving two hours late, told the community of KwaXimba.

KwaXimba residents have staged several protests over water shortages. Taps have been dry for over seven years in some areas.

“I] will like to invite everyone in the area to come and witness this on that day,” Mchunu told those assembled in the Inkosi Masinga Sports Centre, eThekwini, last week.

However, according to a media statement released the next day by the Department of Water and Sanitation, none of the projects to alleviate the water crisis in KwaXimba are on schedule for completion in April. An urgently commissioned wastewater treatment facility in the Mvini area is only expected to be operational by mid May. The long-term solution is the construction of the Upper Mkhomazi scheme, which will add 400 megalitres per day to the western aqueduct, but this is only expected to be completed by 2030.

Asked whether water would be restored in April as promised by the minister, his spokesperson, Kamokgelo Mokgotsi, said, “The City is the water services authority. As a department, we are assisting them to fast-track their projects”. The municipality referred our queries to the national department.

According to the media statement, a power outage at Midmar Dam affected areas supplied by the western aqueduct, including Hammersdale, Georgedale, Kloof, Gillitts, Tshelimnyama, Dassenhoek, Inanda and Umzinyathi. Water from the western aqueduct was restored on 19 February, but inadequate supply persists.

EThekwini municipality officials were present at the meeting with the minister hosted by the Inkosi Mlaba of KwaXimba.

But, said resident Hlengiwe Mkhize, municipal officials usually only come to address the community after a protest. Then they might get water for about a week, before taps run dry again, said Mkhize.

Nqobizizwe Ngubane, secretary to the Inkosi, said they called the minister because they are getting no solution from the eThekwini municipality.

Mkhize said where she lives they last had tap water seven years ago. Water trucks don’t reach her area and people have to fetch water from neighbouring areas.

Mlungisi Ngcobo, who has lived in ward 1 for more than 20 years, said water truck deliveries are infrequent and he has resorted to fetching water from a river which is “very dirty”.

TOPICS:  Water

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