Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu and eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda are expected to visit communities in eThekwini this weekend amid growing outrage and protests over water shortages.
This comes as calls for the provision of water function to be taken away from the municipality, with Mchunu’s department saying proposed legislative amendments would make it possible for another service provider to take over water reticulation, provided that eThekwini Municipality made such an application.
Verulam and Phoenix residents have blocked roads and protested in recent weeks as ongoing water shortages have affected the northern parts of the metro including Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, uMhlanga and Durban North.
Mervyn Reddy, a pastor and the public relations officer for the Voice of Phoenix, a group formed by community activists in 2022, on Thursday said the water crisis was ongoing.
On Thursday the organisation provided 30 tons of drinking water to schools and four tankers to the Mahatma Gandhi state hospital.
Reddy said they were in discussions with Mchunu to address a meeting in Phoenix, in addition to his scheduled visit to Verulam.
“This has been an ongoing crisis since 2022 and the municipality keeps raising new issues while trying to resolve existing problems and we believe something is not right here.
“We have heard every excuse from problems with the aqueducts to the flood damage and now there is an issue with the valves.”
DA provincial leader Francois Rodgers said the party would be writing to Parliament’s portfolio committee for Water and Sanitation to hold an inquiry into the ongoing water crisis in eThekwini.
The party this week had an engagement with uMngeni-uThukela Water officials over water losses, the shortage of engineers, maintenance, and a service backlog in the municipality.
It said that eThekwini was a growing risk to the water board because it was the single largest customer they had.
“It is now crucial that Parliament steps in and urgently convenes public hearings into the continued water crisis as well as forcing the eThekwini Municipality to account for this disaster under their watch,” Rodgers said.
He also called for uMngeni-uThukela Water to take over the role of water delivery to communities from eThekwini Municipality.
“There’s more water than eThekwini needs but 40% of it disappears or is lost and a total of 57% is unaccounted for, so clearly the City and its officials do not have the capacity to do the job of water reticulation.
“We will try to get uMngeni-uThukela to take over the responsibility of not only supplying the bulk water but also providing the reticulation services from the municipality.”
UMngeni-uThukela spokesperson Siyabonga Maphumulo said such a decision could only be made by Mchunu’s department.
Mchunu’s spokesperson, Kamogelo Mogotsi, said the Department of Water and Sanitation was looking to amend certain legislation where a water service provider could apply to have the service taken over by an entity, NGO or another municipality.
“It is not impossible for a municipality to hand over the responsibility of water provision to another entity but the municipality would have to make this application,” said Mogotsi.
She confirmed that Mchunu and Kaunda were this weekend expected to visit areas in eThekwini that had been affected by water shortages.