A water supply shop in Kimberley had to close down for the day yesterday as there was no water to supply to the public. Seen here is the notice on the shop's window. Picture: Danie van der Lith
A water supply shop in Kimberley had to close down for the day yesterday as there was no water to supply to the public. Seen here is the notice on the shop's window. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Water shortage cripples Kimberley

By Norma Wildenboer Time of article published Nov 20, 2015

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Kimberley - The city’s economy ground to a near-standstill yesterday on the sixth day of no water for many residents, with the impact of the water shutdowns expected to run into losses of millions of rands.

According to reports, the Kimberley Hospital was forced to cancel its theatre lists and general services, and could only deal with life-threatening emergencies.

Many businesses and government departments were forced to close their doors and sent employees home as there was no water to flush toilets, while the majority of primary schools closed at around 10am, forcing parents to make alternative arrangements for the care of their children.

Panic also struck at many old-age homes and childcare centres, which were forced to make alternative arrangements for water.

According to the DA provincial spokesman for Health, Isak Fritz, the Kimberley Hospital was left high and dry and was forced to cancel surgeries as well as other services.

“The hospital was also affected in terms of unwashed linen, while it was also unable to wash, steam and sterilise medical equipment as a result of the water shortage,” Fritz said.

He added that it was unacceptable that the Northern Cape’s only tertiary hospital had been brought to a standstill as a result of the water shortage.

“The hospital already has a backlog when it comes to waiting lists for operations, and now sick people will have to wait even longer to receive the medical treatment they desperately require.”

The DA called on the MEC for Health, Mac Jack, to investigate allegations that hospital management had failed to maintain its reserve water tanks.

‘Absolute chaos’

“The MEC must ensure that Kimberley Hospital, and all other health facilities for that matter, have sufficient water reserves to carry them through times of scarcity. This is critical given the Sol Plaatje Municipality’s inability to secure water provision for the Kimberley area. It is also increasingly important given the current climate of drought and water shortages across the country,” said Fritz.

Meanwhile, Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO, Sharon Steyn, described yesterday’s situation, in the wake of the water crisis, as “absolute chaos”.

“Kimberley should be declared a disaster area. This has reached crisis status - colleges, schools, hairdressing salons, hotels, dry-cleaners, carwash businesses... almost all businesses were affected. Hospitals and veterinary services had to cancel procedures and were forced to only see to emergencies. Even Hancor Dairies, which supplied water to locals over the weekend when there was no water, ran dry when their borehole dried up.”

Steyn questioned who would take responsibility for the losses suffered by local businesses. “Hundreds of thousands of rands were lost – businesses suffered as the majority came to a complete standstill.”

Most government departments closed down, while companies like the Diamond Trading Company also sent staff home when they ran out of water to flush toilets.

The construction manager at the Sol Plaatje University also expressed grave concern at the situation, saying that while work at the site had not stopped completely, it had slowed down because there was no water to mix the cement, while they also had to provide water for their workers out of their own pocket.

“The situation could have grave consequences if it continues any longer as we are already into the second day of no water and we have to pay penalties if we don’t reach construction deadlines.”

Nurseries have also suffered as they have not been able to water their plants. “It has been very warm and the heat has already scorched many of our plants,” one nursery owner said.

One hotel manager said that while his establishment was fully booked, they were unable to provide guests with showers or ablution facilities.

Restaurants have also had to close their doors.

Some relief was provided yesterday when the city’s emergency services announced that residents could fill containers with water at the municipal offices.


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