Water woes escalate despite promises

Durban taps are running dry following the local government’s commitment to eradicating the water crisis in eThekwini. File picture: Pixabay

Durban taps are running dry following the local government’s commitment to eradicating the water crisis in eThekwini. File picture: Pixabay

Published Apr 17, 2024


Durban — Two months after the government's initial commitment, residents and ratepayers still wake up to dry taps and feel the government has not stuck to its commitment.

Earlier this year, Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu committed that the water crisis in Durban would be solved by February 15.

In March, the South African Human Rights Commission held a workshop with water experts and former engineers regarding a way forward after the government failed to meet its self-imposed deadline. Residents believe the water issue has only increased.

Verulam Water Crisis Committee spokesperson Roshan Lil-Ruthan, who wrote to the UN requesting their intervention in the water crisis, said the response from the UN was pathetic and an indication that the UN office in South Africa was captured.

“The person who turned down our pleas for assistance was a senior official in the (President Cyril) Ramaphosa Office who had to quickly resign because of fraudulent qualifications.

“Imagine this person finds themselves working in the UN. Clearly, someone took good care of a comrade; and then this person guards complaints from going to Geneva or vice versa. I have written to Geneva about this and zero response.”

Lil-Ruthan said he has now escalated the matter to Amnesty International and WaterAid – two International organisations – to seek international community support and raise awareness of the human rights violations by the South African government and the eThekwini Municipality.

Roshan Lil-Ruthan of the Verulam Water Crisis Committee. Picture supplied

Deputy chairperson of the Westville Ratepayers Association and eThekwini Ratepayers Protest Movement, Rose Cortes, shared that the minister’s commitment appears to have been nothing but lip service.

“Since his (Mchunu’s) visit, water outages across the city have escalated. In Westville, our central business district as well as a large residential area have suffered regular water interruptions that appear to be repeat faults and the city continues to Band-Aid. There has been little to no movement in replacing repeat infrastructure failures.

“Reporting these outages is also an exercise in patience. Burst water pipes require urgent and immediate action, yet our residents find themselves waiting hours for a reference number to start the process of getting a team out to attend.

“Hours go by while water is lost and very often, fault references are closed before any work has been carried out, leaving residents panicked and frustrated,” Cortes said.

The South African Human Rights Commission was reached on Friday afternoon for comment, and they acknowledged receiving the query and said they would respond in due time. However, they had not responded by publication time.

The eThekwini Municipality was reached on Friday as well and had not replied or acknowledged the reception of an email. Reminders were sent on Monday morning to both parties, without any success.

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