Fed-up residents left without water for nearly 100 days

Verulam residents burnt tyres, sticks and buckets in another protest over water outages. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Verulam residents burnt tyres, sticks and buckets in another protest over water outages. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 25, 2024


Verulam residents in Trenance Park who have been without water for almost 100 days, say their relief was short-lived on Tuesday, when water was restored to their taps for a few hours only for them to run dry again.

Residents who spoke to “The Mercury”on Wednesday said they were fed-up and disappointed as their lives were severely disrupted by the ongoing water outages. Protests have erupted in the area and other neighbouring communities affected by the outages.

Resident Anusha Ramroop said the situation was dire as they had to constantly fill water containers to be able to do basic chores.

“It’s really bad, we can’t cook, bathe or do washing. We can’t do anything. There’s no drinking water and the tankers do come, but only sometimes on this road,” she said.

She added that she had fallen in her driveway while carrying 20 litres of water and hurt her leg.

“In the pouring rain I’m filling water and I ended up getting the flu.”

She said a lot of people were suffering, especially the elderly, as water had to be fetched in buckets when tankers came.

Another resident, who is among eight family members in a household, Kavitha Jugernath, said it was tough for the family as they had children going to school and her 64-year-old father was not well.

“We have to walk right up the hill and carry water back home. So few of us are working in the house and we don’t have money to go and buy water. When we do have to buy, we also have to spend money on taxis to get the water back home.”

Jugernath said all the community wanted was for water to return to their taps.

In Parkgate, protesting residents were dispersed with tear gas on Wednesday.

Parkgate resident Slungile Biyela said she has had no water for two weeks and when they did get water from the tankers, people got sick.

“Lots of people have running stomachs,” she said.

Resident Themba Zulu said he has to collect river water. “When we drink the tanker water we get sick and when we bathe our skin itches.”

He said they needed water in their taps, not water tankers.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it would be facilitating meetings between the eThekwini Municipality and the Verulam Water Crisis Committee.

Provincial SAHRC manager Pavershree Padayachee said it held a meeting with the committee and the municipality on Tuesday regarding the water issues.

Padayachee said there were also representatives from the Tongaat Civic Association in attendance.

“The purpose of the meeting was to hear the concerns of the Verulam Crisis Committee and other affected communities and to facilitate discussions between the parties.”

She said a number of challenges have been highlighted, some of which will require both long- and short-term interventions being implemented.

Protesting residents were dispersed with tear gas in Parkgate. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Verulam Water Crisis Committee spokesperson Roshan Lil-Ruthan said the meeting was successful and a dedicated project manager has been appointed to meet with concerned parties to ensure the effective implementation of the agreed-upon plan.

He added that the committee will be meeting with the uMngeni-uThukela board chairperson and their staff on Thursday.

Lil-Ruthan urged residents to remain calm during this trying time.

“It is essential that we allow the eThekwini Municipality staff to work freely in all areas and suburbs, without interference or intimidation.”

On Tuesday, the municipality said it was attending to the water outages in areas north of Durban. It said that the recent heavy rains had caused widespread damage to its infrastructure.

The Mercury