No water for cooking or washing: KwaNobuhle families battle system breakdown

In one informal settlement, only one of 15 standpipes has water - and only for two hours at a time

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Noziphiwo Stock fetches water from a standpipe in Area 11, KwaNobuhle around 8am on Thursday. The water was cut off again at 11am. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

  • Families in KwaNobuhle in Kariega have battled water outages for two weeks.
  • In Area 11 informal settlement, only one of 15 standpipes has been working, and only intermittently.
  • On Tuesday the municipality said the water supply would be restored overnight.
  • But on Thursday there was still no water in many parts of the township.

Noziphiwo Stock’s ten-year-old granddaughter Onika went to school on Thursday without her morning porridge and without bathing because there was no water to cook or wash. Theirs is one of hundreds of families in KwaNobuhle, Kariega, battling water outages for two weeks.

Onika had to wash with a rag using a little water left over in a cup, said Stock. “She didn’t eat porridge because we have no water. A load of washing is piling up and is stinking because there has been no water to wash it,” she said.

The family live in Area 11 informal settlement, where according to area committee members, some 3,000 households share 15 standpipe taps and 30 water tanks. Most taps have been dry most of the time for two weeks. People have been queuing at the single tap which occasionally has water, on R Alexander Road.

“As it comes back, water runs in our standpipes for only two hours,” said Stock.

Lindelwa Nyiki was one of those queuing at the R Alexander standpipe, on Wednesday. The previous week she had been to fetch water in another ward, from her relatives, spending R36 in taxi fare to get there and back.

Lindelwa Nyiki walked to queue at the R Alexander standpipe on Wednesday. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Another resident, Vuyani Jacobs, said he arrived when it was dark to draw water from the R Alexander standpipe on Wednesday morning. Behind him stood Luthando Mdayi. Both Jacobs and Mdayi said they walked from Phase Four bungalows where about eight water tanks have had no water for weeks. The area was built during the Covid pandemic to house elderly people and people with disabilities.

“What makes it worse is that we are not made aware as shack dwellers as to what is happening,” said Nyiki. “Water outages have been happening every day for weeks, without a word from the municipality.”

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality acknowledged in a statement on Tuesday that the whole of KwaNobuhle had been affected by a two-week water shortage. Over 100,000 people live in KwaNobuhle according to the 2011 census.

Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said there had been failures in bulk infrastructure. But, he said: “All the issues on the bulk system have been resolved and the system is recovering with all the supply reservoirs in KwaNobuhle above 45%.”

Mniki said the system was expected to fill up overnight on Tuesday and water to be restored in KwaNobuhle by Wednesday morning. But on Thursday many areas were still without water. No water trucks had been provided.

GroundUp contacted Mniki for further comment on Thursday but no response had been received by the time of publication.

TOPICS:  Water

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