Ugu residents take to the streets after three weeks without access to water
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DURBAN - THE ongoing water supply problems besetting the Ugu District have seen residents reach their breaking point, with 5 000 holding violent protests to vent their frustrations.
The angry residents are demanding efficient water supply after having not had water for more than three weeks. Protesters from Izingolweni, Hibberdene and Madlala blocked main roads, bringing the Port Shepstone area to a standstill in a protest that started on Tuesday morning.
Community members yesterday blocked the N2 highway at Izingolweni with burning tyres, and blocked all entry points to Port Shepstone. A municipal guard room was set alight and a tractor was partially burnt.
It was alleged that the community also set alight four trucks in the Louisiana area, in Port Shepstone. On Tuesday night, a community hall, Ray Nkonyeni municipal building, five vehicles and a grader were set alight.
Police confirmed that three people were arrested on Tuesday for public violence. A group of people broke into a business and stole liquor in the Ezingolweni CBD yesterday morning.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said yesterday afternoon that the N2 highway at Hibberdene and Izingolweni was still blocked.
“Motorists are advised to use alternative routes. Public order police and local police are working tirelessly to stabilise the situation,” said Gwala.
She added that Port Shepstone SAPS was investigating a case of public violence and charges of malicious damage to property.
A resident, whose name is known to The Mercury, said residents were upset as they had been without running water for more than three weeks and the municipality had failed to provide water tankers.
“They came with JoJo tankers, yet they were not refilling them. The people in rural and township areas are being neglected and priority is being given to people in the city and suburbs,” said the resident.
Ugu municipal spokesperson France Zama confirmed that the violent protests were due to water supply problems.
Zama said an electrical fault in their main water system was found three weeks ago, and this had resulted in a total failure of water provision in several areas. He said that when load shedding was implemented the situation worsened.
Zama said they had been trying to maintain a stable supply of water, but they had encountered difficulties with resources and water capacity.
“Their (residents) anger is understandable. We have been trying to provide water with water tankers.”
Zama said that an urgent meeting was held on Tuesday night with various MECs in the province, including the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC, Sipho Hlomuka.
Hlomuka, visited the district yesterday together with KZN Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza.
Hlomuka, who condemned the violent protests, said a team had been tasked to deal with the issues raised by the communities.
Hlomuka said they had agreed that next Tuesday they would report back on all issues that had been raised.