The Verulam Water Crisis Committee has been left with more questions than answers after a meeting attended by a high level government delegation, including Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu, senior eThekwini Municipality and uMngeni-uThukela Water officials.
The community-led organisation says it never got a straight answer about what was the root cause of their constant water problems in the area, despite many “excuses” given by the government representatives.
An angry Roshan Lil-Ruthan, the spokesperson for the Verulam Water Crisis Committee, said they got no answers from the delegation.
“All the government has done is give us excuses,” he said.
Mchunu, the leadership of eThekwini and uMngeni-uThukela Water met with residents in northern parts of the city on Sunday to discuss ongoing water challenges.
Lil-Ruthan said despite the meeting, nobody in the area, including himself, knew exactly why the supply of water in Verulam was such a difficult task for the government.
“Firstly, they told us it was because of vandalism. Then we heard it was failing infrastructure, then equipment failure and lastly we heard uMngeni-uThukela was throttling the supply of water to residents in the north, which they confirmed to me was not true.
“Every time we met with the government, I asked for some form of proof to justify the reasons they gave and they never ever had proof,” Lil-Ruthan said.
Lil-Ruthan said it has been two years since Verulam residents have had an inconsistent supply of water, with the situation reaching a boiling-point at the tail end of 2023.
Protests erupted in northern eThekwini suburbs like Phoenix and Verulam over the municipality’s inability to bring an end to the crisis.
But this week, Mchunu made a bold promise, saying all water-related problems in areas like Verulam, Phoenix and Tongaat would come to an end by February 15, 2024.
Mchunu said they were not abdicating their roles in the supply of water to residents of eThekwini, despite the municipality being the water service authority.
“The deadline is February 15, 2024, for us to overcome all these current problems. The head of water in the City, Mr Msweli and the Acting Chief Operating Officer of uMngeni-uThukela Water will be on the ground hard at work.
“Work will be carried out day and night if we have to, in order to meet this deadline and provide people with water. We will come back after the 15th to come and account for our undertaking,” Mchunu said.
But Lil-Ruthan was not convinced that the problems would come to an end at the promised date.
“I will be waiting outside our reservoirs on the 15th with my deckchair to see if this problem is fixed or whether this was another empty promise,” he concluded.