Scramble for water in Kariega as municipality fails to keep its promise

Water tanker runs dry after 30 minutes

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Families rushed to fill buckets from a tanker as the water shortage in Kariega entered its 10th day. Photos: Thamsanqa Mbovane

It took less than 30 minutes for a 20,000-litre tanker to run out of water in KwaNobuhle in Kariega on Tuesday afternoon as more than 100 residents pushed and shoved to get water.

The crowd, including children and old people, had gathered in Xuma Street before the truck arrived. When the water stopped flowing, the crowd kept turning the taps trying to get a few drops, until the driver announced that the truck was empty.

“When you see water trucks roaming all over KwaNobuhle township, you must know that we are still in a water crisis,” said the driver, who did not want to be identified.

Last Friday, when President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Kariega, the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality promised that water would be restored overnight. The director of water services, Joseph Tsatsire, made that promise as he stood in front of Uitenhage Town Hall waiting for the President.

But on Tuesday residents said water had been scarce since 1 June and nothing had changed. Several wards are affected.

At Xuma Street, resident Mhlophe Mbona said he had rushed to follow the truck, to no avail. “The truck ran empty. The driver had to drive off to fetch more water and it usually takes over two hours to come back. We could not fill our buckets.”

Mbona said he was living with three grandchildren. “Our toilet is stinking, and I fear it will block. I lock my yard to avoid people who might knock and ask for a toilet.”

People of ward 45 in Duduza draw water from leaking huge pipes at the collapsed bridge crossing to Holomisa.

In Bucwa Street, where storms damaged the water main, children and their parents were drawing water from leaking broken pipes. Technicians were digging trenches next to desperate residents, using bulldozers.

“My 12-year-old son Othandwayo has been drawing water from this dirty river… ever since 1 June,” said resident Nomathamsanqa Dyantjies, mother of four children including a seven-month-old baby.

She said, “We have been seeing these things on TV in rural areas but now we are doing them too.” Dyantjies said the dirty water was used to flush toilets. For drinking, the family had to buy water.

Seven water trucks were queuing to fill up on busy Ponana Road in Khayelitsha. Drivers said they were working overtime.

TOPICS:  Water

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