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UMhlathuze wards without water since New Year’s after diesel contamination

File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 6, 2021

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Thulasizwe Nkomo

Durban - The uMhlathuze Municipality is facing water outages and at least 15 wards in the area have been without water supply since the start of the new year.

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The city said the disruption in the water supply follows the contamination of the Cubhu Lake Water Works with traces of diesel on January 1.

UMhlathuze Municipality spokesperson Mdu Ncalane said staff were working hard to ensure that the citizens’ constitutional right to have clean water was fulfilled.

“Since preliminary water sample testing found traces of diesel in raw water at Cubhu Lake Water Works, the city immediately advised community members not to consume water until all diesel has been flushed out, the supply system cleaned properly and all relevant water quality tests were conducted and concluded.

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“About 15 wards were affected, which covers the whole of eSikhaleni township, eMpembeni (KwaDube), Port Dunford (KwaMkhwanazi North), Niwe, Vulindlela, Felixton and Dlangezwa areas,” said Ncalane.

Ncalane said they had dispatched water tankers to all affected wards, working in consultation with all ward councillors, ward committee members and local leadership to ensure that communities get water while the system was being rehabilitated.

He said the city had managed to remove the traces of diesel that had landed in the water works and had flushed out all the contaminated water. He said the water supply was expected to be restored by Friday.

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He added that the municipality had directed that an investigation be conducted to find the culprits who had broken into the water works facility in an attempt to steal diesel as the incident had led to the contamination of the water.

Ncalane said the municipality would also open a criminal case.

He added that the Department of Water and Sanitation would conduct its own water quality checks and an investigation on the impact of the water contamination.

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Ward 17 councillor Graduate Zondi confirmed that the water supply has been disrupted.

“We have now gone three days with no running water, however, with the help of the municipality we are trying alternative ways to provide water by means of water tankers and other options,” said Zondi.

The IFP raised concerns about the water crisis in the area which falls under the King Cetshwayo District Municipality, a coronavirus hot spot in KwaZulu-Natal.

IFP spokesperson on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Xolani Ngwezi called on the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, to urgently intervene and to ramp up efforts to assist the municipality in ensuring that the residents’ constitutional right to clean drinking water was upheld.

“It is shocking that residents have nowhere else to turn, especially during our fight to stop the spread of Covid19, which requires all South Africans to regularly wash their hands and to practice extra-precautionary sanitisation measures,” said Ngwezi.

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