’This is not the right time for political gimmicks’ says eThekwini following water outages in Durban
Durban – The eThekwini Municipality has been accused of failing to act quickly to prevent water outages that left many communities with dry taps for days.
The south of Durban, including Chatsworth and surrounding areas, Queensburgh and parts of Mariannridge were still without water yesterday.
One community member, who asked not to be named, said the situation had led to ugly scenes of community members fighting over water.
DA councillor Nicole Graham said the water crisis could have been avoided as the warning signs had been there for sometime.
“The DA is dismayed at the state that the eThekwini Municipality has plunged the city into. This is a result of the complete failure of the Northdene 3 pump station which services 8 eThekwini water reservoirs.
“The reality is that this was an avoidable disaster for many reasons. It has been clear that many pump stations were not in a good state and that imminent failure was possible at a number of sites.
“Despite this, it is clear that maintenance was not done in due course and that spares or replacements were not procured,” she said.
Graham said a tender notice was put out to provide electrical repairs to two of the three pumps at Northdene in September last year.
The DA was informed this was all completed by October 21 with the intention of using urgent procurement regulations to complete the work. Apparently, against the advice of legal, finance and water and sanitation employees, the accounting officer refused to sign this off.
“It was thus forced to follow a normal, lengthy tender process and eventually the pump station completely failed,” Graham said.
She said the auxiliary services that should be available to assist the public had also been limited.
“The sachet plant – which fills 8-litre sachets quickly and easily – is again not working. Cash flow issues mean that the ability of the municipality to procure additional tankers and JoJo tanks is limited. The net result is an entirely avoidable humanitarian crisis – hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people without water in a declared Covid-19 hot spot zone,” she said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said this was due to negligence on the part of the municipality.
“It should have never gotten to this point, the municipality was warned as far back as 2014 that its infrastructure was old and needed to be repaired. It is also worrying that the municipality does not keep spare parts, if they need a valve, why can’t they have it in storage,” he said.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said: “This is not the right time for political gimmicks but rather a time to channel all our energies to return the situation to normalcy.
“Yes, we do acknowledge that we may not be at the position to meet every resident’s water needs at the same time but we are proud of the lengths we have gone to ensure that water tankers were provided as we battled with the challenge.”
He said other areas had started to receive water sourced from an alternative reservoir and as a result areas such as KwaSanti, Klaarwater, Savannah Park were already getting water.
“We do hope that by tonight the system would have improved. We have contractors on site and they are working overnight again to ensure that this pump commences its operations which will result in all the areas that have been affected having running water.”