DURBAN - A scheme by Umgeni Water to ease water problems in the Vulindlela area, about 15km outside Pietermaritzburg, is expected to come into effect in 2021.

The area has severe water shortages and the taps regularly run dry by morning, with the supply resuming again in the middle of the night.

The Msunduzi Municipality is responsible for the water supply.

Residents said water tankers rarely came to the area.

According to a government study conducted more than five years ago, when the government embarked on a housing project, Vulindlela had more than 25000 households, but it has grown rapidly since then.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the problems partly related to supply-and-demand issues.

“We’re supplying as much as we can, but Vulindlela’s a big area and it’s growing.” He said a new water scheme to benefit Vulindlela by augmenting the supply was under way and was expected to be completed by 2021.

The scheme, which will cost about R280million, will include a new reservoir, upgrades to the current reservoir and a new pipeline.

IFP councillor in the area Thinasonke Ntombela said he feared the problem was tender corruption.

“We can’t blame Umgeni Water because we (Msunduzi Municipality) are the service provider. If there was a challenge with Umgeni, there has never been a meeting to address this.

“This has been going on for a long time. We suspect that the water is being deliberately turned off so water can be delivered with water tankers to benefit someone. Many tankers are branded as Msunduzi, but an investigation will reveal that these tankers don’t belong to the municipality,” claimed Ntombela.

Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo said the water shortage was a serious challenge. He said he understood the problem was with one of the reservoirs of Umgeni Water.

“I’m also affected and I’m sometimes without water for extended periods. I’ve asked for a meeting between water officials and the community,” he said.