Pietermaritzburg residents fetch water from a dirty river

Still no water supply in spite of new reservoir

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Photo of water tank
Residents of KwaPhupha hoped the new reservoir would supply them with water. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

Residents of Willowfountain in Pietermaritzburg are still fetching dirty water from the river in spite of the installation of a new reservoir in March. Communal taps in KwaPhupha in Willowfountain ran dry in February last year and in spite of the construction of a new reservoir, the water supply has not resumed.

Water is supplied by a water tanker which is in the area less than 15 minutes, leaving many residents without water.

“We have no choice but to fetch water from the river”, said Samkelo Ngcobo. “We share the river water with cows. One has to wake up as early as possible before the cows reach the river. If you are late, there’s no way to come back with clean water. When cows get into the river the water is diluted with mud or dung.”

“Those who are health conscious boil the river water before using it so that they don’t get sick.” Ngcobo said that the community had breathed “a sigh of relief” when a new reservoir was built in Willowfountain, but the water had not been supplied to the KwaPhupha community. “Nothing has changed. It is very tough especially for some of our elderly neighbours. Most grandmothers stay with younger children who cannot carry 20 litre containers.”

Pensioner Sizakele Mchunu, 70, said her neighbour’s children helped her get water from the tanker or from the river. Mchunu has arthritis and she always misses the water tanker because it doesn’t stay for long. “I cannot walk properly and it’s difficult for me to be on time when the water tanker is here. They take my water container and sometimes it returns empty. Sometimes I have to pay them to fetch the water from the river,” said Mchunu.

Ward councillor Thabiso Molefe said there were plans to connect the community to the reservoir. “It is a tough challenge but we are working on it. We are appealing to the community to be patient while we are trying to work on this water issue,” said Molefe.

TOPICS:  Sanitation Water

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