Businesses provide thousands of litres of water to Verulam residents hit by ongoing water shortages
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Durban - Residents in Trenance Park, Verulam, frustrated by not having water over the Easter weekend, staged a protest outside a reservoir on Madrona Drive this week. The group of more than 50 people set tyres alight.
Last month POST highlighted the plight of residents who experienced ongoing disruptions to their water supply. It included the areas of Trenance Park, Buffelsdraai, Amaoti, Redcliffe and parts of the Verulam CBD.
Zainub Ally, 35, of Madrona Drive, a mother of two, said: “We are at work when the tankers arrive, so we don't get water for two or more days. Our children are not washing their hands properly during the coronavirus pandemic.”
She said they were given various reasons for not having water and no longer knew what to believe.
"It's either because the pump at the reservoir is broken or the reservoir is empty. Then, last week, we were told there was no water due to vandalism."
Dravina Ramai, 38, of Softwood Crescent, is a member of the community police forum. They have been forced to rely on private donors for water.
“We worked long hours to try to get water to residents. What is happening is frustrating because we don't get notifications of water disruptions. When we call the city's call centre, the standard response is that technicians will be dispatched to evaluate and rectify the problem.”
Belinda Francis, 40, of Madrona Drive, said: "This is unacceptable. We need some accountability and transparency. Residents have had to take to the streets to protest because their pleas have fallen on deaf ears."
She said the community was grateful to private and corporate sponsors.
“These people are selfless and are working tirelessly to help us."
Ricky Naidoo, the owner of plastic packaging company Venk-pac, said he had dispatched three trucks each day to assist residents. Each truck carried between 8 000 and 10 000 litres of water as well as about 3 000 5-l bottles of water.
"We start at about 9am and only finish at 11pm. We struggled to get water filled by the city, so the tanks are filled at our factory in Verulam."
Naidoo said that a community leader, who knew of the company's social upliftment projects, had approached them for help.
"We knew we had to do something. The situation is bad. There are a lot of elderly and sick people in the community. It is our duty to help."
He said that the city needed to regularly maintain its infrastructure and not wait until something broke.
"They don't appreciate the impact this is having on the community and on the city in the future. They need to invest money in the right places.”
Jeeten Jaganath, the owner of SBA Protect, and Rickesh Roopan, the owner of Lee's Electronics, have distributed 40 000 litres of water in the area.
Jaganath said the water was filled at their business premises into flow drums provided by Mo Riaz, of Overport.
“What has happened to this community is a tragedy," said Jaganath.
Yogis Govender, a DA member of the city’s executive committee, said: “The issue here was the capacity of the reservoir, where the supply did not meet the demand. This project was sitting for several years with the water and sanitation department. I made numerous queries and held several meetings to question the progress or the lack thereof in fixing the problem. This took a while. By this month the project will be near completion."
She said that while the capacity at the reservoir would increase, the infrastructure at the facility was failing.
"In other words, planned water rationing will cease but outages may not."
Govender said that the water and sanitation department needed almost R21 billion to fix the water issues in eThekwini.
“The long-term solution must address failing infrastructure, inadequate spares, upgrades to critical reservoirs, generators, defective pumps, mechanical and electrical components, load-shedding contingencies and unskilled contractors."
Msawakhe Mayisela, the eThekwini municipality’s spokesperson, said: “We are aware of the water supply issues in the area. These are caused by the growing demand in the area.
“The city currently has the Trenance 3 rezoning project which is under way. This aims at transferring the load from the Trenance 3 tower to Trenance 3 reservoir, which has sufficient capacity. We are optimistic that this will solve the water issues long-term.
“In all instances where there have been water shortages in any area of the city, we have been able to ensure that our residents have adequate supply through sending water tankers,” he said.