KwaNobuhle residents complain about discrimination as Gqeberha water crisis begins to bite

Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape is facing a water crisis. Picture: Henk Kruger/ African News Agency (ANA)

Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape is facing a water crisis. Picture: Henk Kruger/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 14, 2022


Durban – As the Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) water crisis begins to worsen, with some local dams left with only 10 days of water supply, KwaNobuhle township residents are claiming to be bearing the brunt of the shortage

The community say that the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro has left them to fend for themselves after placing a half-filled Jojo tank to service 1 500 households.

The residents also say that at times, the Jojo tank is not filled up and no feedback is given to them on when water will be available.

These claims come as the coastal metro in the Eastern Cape is battling a water crisis that has seen water rationing, with high-lying areas susceptible to frequent water cuts as pumps run dry.

The water crisis has been coming for some time and in preparation, the metro has embarked on an awareness campaign to teach residents how to use water sparingly.

The crisis could not be averted even after Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu last week diverted water from Gariep Dam in the Free State to help alleviate the situation, including servicing KwaNobuhle township.

On Thursday, the Water Crisis Committee said KwaNobuhle was getting the rough end of the stick.

“In Chis Hani Location, KwaNobuhle, over 5 000 households are dependent on one half-filled Jojo tank. The water tanker comes only once a day and the residents are never sure when the tanker might arrive. This might sound tragic to most people, but for the residents of Chris Hani this is an improvement from earlier this year. In the last three months, this community received water only once a week.

“A day in Chris Hani starts at 6am queuing for water as residents have become desperate waiting in very long queues. There remains no formal communication from the municipality about the actual time the water tankers will come.

“Without warning, the municipality completely shuts down the water system for this community. This experience of abrupt water shutdowns is also shared by the greater working-class townships of Uitenhage. In the past, water shutdowns took place during the course of the day and did not return until 3 in the morning, and the water would remain on until it was shut off again at 5am.

“The municipal shutdowns no longer occur, but they disappeared as mysteriously as they came. There has been no municipal communication to explain why Uitenhage residents have had their water shut off. To reiterate, this area remains without water and has been in this absurd situation for over 3 months now,” the committee said.

The spokesperson for the metro, Mthubanzi Mniki, said they did provide updates about water outages as they continued to battle the challenge.

“Through ward councillors and municipal communication channels, which include all our social media platforms, we do inform the public about the water outages in different areas of the city. We also provide alternative water supply to those that do not have water.

“It must be said though that the reality of Nelson Mandela Bay is that we are in a water crisis. Some residents in the most affected areas will experience intermittent water supply. Public information sessions have been held in different clusters of the city to inform residents about the crisis,” he said.

Mniki said the municipality also had a zero-rated  website and WhatsApp number that residents could use for updates on any water crisis-related matter.

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