Who closed the mysterious valve? Joburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda asks as water flows again

A man smiling next to a microphone

Mayor of Joburg, Kabelo Gwamanda. File Picture: Timothy Bernard/Independent Media

Published Mar 13, 2024


Joburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda said by Wednesday morning, water would be flowing in the taps of long-suffering residents in parts of the city who were without water for the past 10 days.

Desperate residents of Joburg have entered a second agonising week without water supply, a problem which was triggered by a lightning strike at the Eikenhof pump station more than a week ago.

City Power, Joburg’s power utility, reported a week ago that a lightning strike had hit its transformer, which impacted the power supply to Rand Water's Eikenhof system.

Eikenhof supplies to areas including greater Soweto, Roodepoort, Hursthill, Crosby and Brixton in Joburg. A second outage was also reported.

Speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, Gwamanda said it was discovered that a closed valve was also contribution to the challenge of getting water to flow to certain areas of Joburg.

Joburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda says the water crisis would start easing by Wednesday morning. Picture: Supplied

“This particular, let me say crisis at this point, it happened as a result of lightning having struck one of Rand Water stations. The subsequent challenge that came from that which further exacerbated the lack of water and the delays was discovering that one of the valves in the water supply from the Rand Water pump station to the City of Johannesburg infrastructure has been closed off,” he said.

“The reason is yet to be determined because there is an investigation that is underway. That only covers two areas that were affected the longest,” Gwamanda said.

“There was a bit of a technical challenge with the City Power’s power supply to one of the pump stations but that was resolved in a matter of hours. The challenge that further exacerbated was the inability to get water to flow from this particular pump station which was discovered to have been contributed to a valve that had been closed off.”

Gwamanda said the closing of the valve affected water supply to Linden and Blairgowrie which were hit the longest by the water crisis.

“It (the closed valve) was discovered 24 hours ago and that issue has since been resolved. There is a steady progression in the water supply as well as the levels in the reservoir. This should recover over a period of three days but by (Wednesday) we will start seeing start running through the taps,” Gwamanda said on Tuesday night.

The mayor could not say if the valve was closed as an act of sabotage, but said he is keenly awaiting the outcome of the Rand Water investigation.

On Monday, the Democratic Alliance in Joburg raised alarm over the water crisis bedevilling South Africa’s heavily populated economic heartbeat, Johannesburg, warning that the city could soon face pandemics linked to water scarcity.

Speaking to IOL, DA Councillor Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, who is the Johannesburg caucus leader said clinics in the city are at times shutting their doors due to no access to water.

“Water is a basic human right. If not attended to, this could lead to health issues because clinics are closing because of no water, without telling patients alternative clinics to go to,” said Kayser-Echeozonjoku.

Councillor Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, the DA’s Johannesburg caucus leader has warned that the water crisis in Joburg could result in waterborne diseases. Picture: Supplied

“This is a catastrophe if old age homes are without water for nine days, no tankers and Joburg Water has been asked three times.”

On the other hand, WaterCAN, a leading civil society organisation dedicated to ensuring access to clean and safe water, also expressed “alarm” that the authorities in Joburg are struggling to resolve the dire water supply situation.

In an interview with IOL, Dr Ferrial Adam, executive manager of WaterCAN said the City of Joburg must not “play politics” around the supply of water.

Dr Ferrial Adam, Executive Manager of civil society organisation, WaterCAN. Picture: Supplied

“The water tanks being provided are not the solution. We need to figure out because we do not know how much government is spending on a water tank per day, we would love to have that information,” she said.