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Still no end to oThongathi’s water crisis

Creativity in the thirstlands of oThongathi.

Creativity in the thirstlands of oThongathi.

Published Jun 11, 2022


Durban - Jojo tanks are cropping up all over thirsty oThongathi, where taps stopped flowing after the floods two months ago today.

“They are like trees, growing all over the place,” said local activist Don Perumall.

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There just aren’t enough, just like there aren’t enough water tankers.

As tensions continue to rise and protests are staged, even the much-appreciated tanks have been a source of conflict.

“If somebody at number 10 is given a tank and it’s easy for him and his neighbours to get water, the people at number one will find it far to walk,” said Perumall, who is a leader of the Belvedere Civic Association in oThongathi.

One creative soul tried to lighten up the sad situation by painting an aquarium scene on a Jojo tank.

“Water tankers come only three or four days a week and we never know which days it will be,” said a resident of the suburb of Gandhinagar.

Perumall said that after a community meeting with eThekwini Municipality, oThongathi residents have pinned their hopes on getting water through the Mamba Ridge reservoir next Friday.

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He said that an objection lodged in the tender process to repair the damaged Tongaat Water Works had caused a delay in the awarding of the tender.

“We are tired now. We need a way forward,” said Perumall.

“Can’t they bring in the people who objected, and the other guy, split it and reach a compromise?”

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Perumall said residents would like to see more water being made available to them through a line owned by the Ilembe Municipality which provided a limited number of consumers with water, thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding between Umgeni Water and the municipality.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the contract inquisition involved water from Hazelmere Water Works, which was already operating at maximum capacity.

“Umgeni Water has a great deal of sympathy for the situation in Tongaat,” he added.

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eThekwini Municipality had not been forthcoming with comment at the time of going to press.

Commenting on the supply of raw water to eThekwini Municipality after the floods, Harichunder said a contractor had been appointed to begin repair work on two large pipelines that transfer raw water from Nagle Dam to the Durban Heights Water Treatment Plant in Reservoir Hills for treatment and supply as potable water to eThekwini Metro.

“The next steps are to establish a site from where work will be managed and provide to Umgeni Water a detailed project implementation plan.”

The two pipelines extensively damaged were in Wushini, near Inanda.

“These two pipelines and two others transport raw water to the Durban Heights Water Treatment Plant. The two pipelines that were not damaged continue to transfer water to the Durban Heights plant.

“Due to the temporary decommissioning of the two damaged pipelines, Umgeni Water has had to use three shaft pumps to transfer water from Inanda Dam to the Durban Heights Water Treatment Plant to augment raw water supply.

“Additional water is also being sent through the two functioning Nagle Dam-Durban Heights Water Treatment Plant pipelines.”

Harichunder said there was currently a deficit in raw water supply to the Durban Heights Water Treatment Plant, and consequently reduced production and supply of potable water.

“The shortfall amounts to, on average, between 40 million and 50 million litres per day. The shortfall will remain until the two pipelines are repaired and recommissioned, expected to be a 10-12 month project."

The Independent on Saturday