Pretoria - Angry residents in Soshanguve took to the street yesterday to air their frustration over a lack of water after their taps ran dry last week owing to ongoing maintenance work done by Rand Water at their Haartebeeshoek reservoir.
Protesters barricaded Aubrey Matlala Street with rocks and burning tyres, inconveniencing taxis and other vehicles transporting commuters to Soshanguve Crossing Mall.
At the heart of their grievances was the fact that there was no deadline given by Rand Water for its maintenance, as was the case in the City of Joburg last week.
According to the City, the maintenance was started on July 12, and the water utility was unable to indicate when it would be concluded.
On Tuesday, the City cautioned residents about the low water flow affecting Soshanguve and Mabopane reservoirs. Low water flows were experienced at Soshanguve Block L reservoirs following maintenance work “that has been carried out by the water utility Rand Water since last week, July 12”.
Other affected reservoirs in region 1 were Mabopane Central and Mabopane Main, sitting at 73% and 35%, respectively.
Mabopane reservoir was said to be standing at 12%, Soshanguve L North at 18%, Soshanguve L South at 26% and Soshanguve DD at 37%. Rand Water, according to the City, was currently supplying water through a bypass method, which was also experiencing challenges.
Community leader Michael Mokoena said: “We are going into the second week without water as the community of Soshanguve Block L. We then decided to wake up at 3am today (yesterday) to demonstrate against the lack of water. We are hoping that the MMC for Utility Services might address our concerns.”
He lamented the fact that the City could not issue a deadline for completing the ongoing maintenance work.
“We were taken by surprise last week to find out that there was a water supply interruption. Why can’t they go live on television and announce the cause of the problem and how long it will last? It means they are not taking residents in townships seriously,” he said.
While the City had dispatched roving water tankers to supply residents with water, many protesters said there were only two of them in Block L, and that there were not enough.
“The water tankers are only available during the day, and many people who come back from work late in the evening are always left without water,” Mokoena said.
Parents who joined in the protest said they were worried that the shortage of water also affected schooling activities in the areas as learners were forced to go home at 11am.
Accompanied by local councillors and municipal officials, Utility Services MMC Themba Fosi yesterday visited Haartebeeshoek reservoir to assess work done so far at the facility.
He said: “Rand Water couldn’t open their facility for us to be able to cascade this information to our residents, to make sure that work is still ongoing. They say that work is still at 95% and further on the timelines that they have set for us that water would be restored.”
He also urged protesting residents to desist from blocking the roads.
“I understand the frustrations of not having water and the pressures that have been exerted on our councillors,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents in Pretoria East also experienced unplanned water supply interruption that affected several parts of Region 3.
In a media statement yesterday, City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said: “The City of Tshwane is aware of a water supply interruption that has affected parts of Region 3. A team of technicians had to shut down the water supply yesterday evening at the Waterkloof Reservoir, to effect the necessary repair work on a damaged water pipe along Jan Shoba Street.”
The affected areas were Groenkloof, Brooklyn, Nieuw Muckleneuk, Bailey’s Muckleneuk, Waterkloof, Lynnwood and Menlo Park.
Mashigo said: “The team has managed to conclude repairs this morning (yesterday) and water supply has been opened. However, given that the system was empty, the network still needs to fill up before the supply to consumers normalises. The City pleads for patience during this period and wishes to apologise for the inconvenience caused by this unforeseen interruption.”