Limpopo villagers force minister to turn around

Giyani protesters block Senzo Mchunu’s access to water project

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Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu (in brown shirt and black hat) trying to call the Minister of Transport to respond to protesters’ demands. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

  • Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu was forced to turn around on Monday when protesters blocked his way to a water project in Limpopo.
  • Mchunu was visiting water projects in Giyani, when villagers blocked the D3810 road.
  • The protesters said their demands for the road to be tarred had not been heard.

Protesters from several villages in Giyani, Limpopo, blocked Water Minister Senzo Mchunu from accessing a water project to assess progress on Monday.

The villagers, from Khakhala, Mahlathi, Ndindani, Hlomela, Gawula and Vuyani, accused the government of not paying attention to their demands to tar the D3810 road. They blocked the road, forcing the minister and his entourage to turn around.

Mchunu, his deputy David Mahlobo, Limpopo MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Basikopo Makamu, and the Mayor of Mopani District, Pule Shayi, had come to check progress on the Giyani bulk water project.

The project, started in 2014, was meant to be completed by 2017. But it has been plagued by controversy and failure despite an estimated spend of R4-billion.

The project is expected to supply water to 55 villages in Giyani.

According to Mchunu the project was resuscitated at the end of 2021.

One reason for the delay has been the connection of a 40km pipeline from Nandoni dam to Giyani. The Department of Water and Sanitation said, in a statement, that the pipeline had now been completed and was already transferring water, the Giyani Water Works was being refurbished, and contractors were working on water reticulation pipelines in the villages.

Mchunu visited Gawula village where trenches for bulk pipes are being dug. He was told by one of the contractors that the village has water for two days, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But residents said the contractor was lying.

“We are not sure what the contractor is talking about. We have never had any running water in the village. We have to travel for about 2km to fetch water from a municipality borehole,” said Dyenyani Maswanganyi.

Odas Ngobeni, spokesperson for Mopani District municipality, which is the water authority, acknowledged that some households may not be getting water yet as the project is still being implemented.

The minister and his entourage then headed along the D3810 to assess another water project, but they were blocked by about 100 protesters who had closed the road with branches and stones. The protesters said the government had neglected their demands for the D3810 to be tarred.

“Yes, we have no water, but today our priority is this road. We know that they are canvassing for votes,” said a visibly angry Tiyiselani Khumbuza.

Mchunu told the protesters he was not responsible for roads and would call the Minister of Transport. But after failing to convince them to let him through, Mchunu decided to visit a water project in another village.

TOPICS:  Water

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