Gopolang Motchaoleng stares at a dry tap after thieves stole cables at the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant leading to a disruption of water supply in townships north of Pretoria. Picture: Masi Losi
Gopolang Motchaoleng stares at a dry tap after thieves stole cables at the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant leading to a disruption of water supply in townships north of Pretoria. Picture: Masi Losi

Cable theft leaves thousands without water

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Oct 21, 2016

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Pretoria - The stolen cables at the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant that left thousands of city residents without water have been replaced - but it will take at least a week for the supply to return to normal.

It could even be longer, unless the process that makes water more acceptable for a specific end-use at Rooiwal goes uninterrupted, officials have said.

The lack of water in several townships north of Pretoria has left communities high and dry, and some residents said they had not been able to go to work.

They opted to stay at home and search for the nearest roaming water tanker promised by the City of Tshwane since disaster struck.

The water shortages were first reported in Hammanskraal and surrounding areas on Monday after the city’s department of water and sanitation implemented an emergency shutdown of Rooiwal.

The action was necessitated following the contamination of water from a raw polluted source as a result of the theft of cables last Thursday evening.

The contamination was so severe that the plant had to be temporarily closed down.

This effectively cut off water in areas such as Stinkwater, Dilopye, New Eersterust, Temba, Babelegi Industries, Hammanskraal, Sekampaneng, Majaneng, Ramotse, Marokolong and Mandela, as well as several farms on the outskirts of these townships.

Boitumelo Mogomotsi, of Temba, said even though the water shortage started on Monday, the community had been experiencing problems for years.

“We’ve been battling with our water supply for years and the current issue has really taken things too far. They can pretend as if the problem has just started now because of the cable theft, but this is what we have been dealing with for a long time.

“I couldn’t go to work this morning, because I had to join other residents to deliver our memorandum to our local councillor. Water has become like gold here; we drive around the township trying to find water tankers to fill up our buckets and when you find one it’s usually empty,” said Mogomotsi.

The Block D resident said the city had not even bothered to inform them about the water interruption. She said some members had stumbled upon a notice on Facebook.

“We would have expected some effort in letting us know that we would not have water instead of a simple Facebook post. What happens to those who don’t have access to Facebook? Running water is a need and the tankers the city provided are not enough,” she said.

Schools in the area had to send pupils home early due to the lack of water.

Winnie Selepe, another resident from Temba, said she had spent the entire morning yesterday looking for the promised water tankers.

“It seems as if these tankers frequent certain areas only. We spotted the last one at about 1pm in a neighbouring area and have since been driving around with buckets looking for another without any luck. We’re grabbing anything that can carry water at the moment with the hope of filling up as many containers and buckets as possible,” she said.

A Rooiwal resident, who spoke to the Pretoria News on condition of anonymity, said they were surprised when executive mayor Solly Msimanga and members of the executive held a meeting with them to discuss the water crisis on Wednesday evening, instead of going to areas most hit by the water shortage.

“At the meeting, there was no talk of how to find solutions to help the people who need water for drinking, bathing and cooking. Instead, all they talked about was restoration of the water supply.

“Apart from apologising for the situation, it seemed like they were here to market themselves rather than provide solutions to the crisis.

“Only a few people were notified of the meeting, mostly the farming community, which is not as harshly affected by this shutdown as the people further up north.

“The farmers have boreholes and tankers supplying them with water. The people who need water desperately are considered a second priority,” said the resident.

City spokesman Lindela Mashigo said 20 roaming water tankers had been dispatched to the affected areas.

Mashigo said the city was engaging with national departments to complement the current fleet in the areas that had been affected by the disaster.

“Our communication was not only limited to social media; media alerts have led to interviews on digital, radio, television and print media. In addition, ward councillors were informed about the cable theft and entire situation that had caused enormous inconvenience to the lives of the communities,” he said.

Mashigo said the city was doing its utmost to ensure that the treatment plant becomes operational as speedily as possible.

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Pretoria News

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