Rand Water to help dry Bushbuckridge
Jenni Evans and News24 correspondent
Bushbuckridge - Gauteng's Rand Water is going to help parched Bushbuckridge where up to 70% of the community do not have bulk water supplies, President Jacob Zuma said at the end of a visit to the area.
Zuma said after his visit on Friday that he was told that 60% of the people living there are without tap water, and 75% do not have a water connection in their yard, relying on borehole water.
"Because of the drought we know there are more issues," he told residents at Thulamahashe Stadium on Friday. He, Cabinet ministers and the provincial executive visited the area as part of the Presidential Siyahlola Monitoring Programme.
The community had appealed to government to intervene and address service delivery issues, specifically water and sanitation, housing, roads, electricity and refuse removal. Zuma instructed all his ministers to respond to all of the issues raised before their next visit in February. Zuma said there had been some improvement in the area through the intervention of the national Department of Water and Sanitation, and the Mpumalanga government.
Gaugeng's Rand Water has also been seconded to take over water supply infrastructure management from Bushbuckridge Water with a focus on districts such as Ehlanzeni and Bushbuckridge. These plans formed part of broader measures to deal with severe water shortages in the country which have led to disasters being declared in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo where as many as 2.7million households are affected - 18% of the population.
He said R500 million has already been spent on phase one of a R1billion programme to secure water supplies in the Bushbuckridge area.
He said more than 20 000 yard connections had been made in the first phases of reticulation in about 38 villages.
He acknowledged other areas of concern there, such as high poverty levels, unemployment, a shortage of libraries and drug abuse.
Delays and abuses
Residents also complained about delays in the processing of social grant applications, the abuse of foster care grants, the need for food parcels, and suggestions that shelters be built at paypoints so that social grant beneficiaries don't have to queue in the baking sun or the rain. Calls were also made for government to hire officials who understand sign language.
Zuma acknowledged concerns over badly potholed and congested roads, especially along the R40 from Hazyview. "I have seen that road too," said Zuma.
He was also aware of contractors who failed to complete housing projects, police stations without vehicles, such as Marite police station. "We learnt that there no telephone lines in that police station, some lights are not working, their photo-copying machines and doors are broken, toilets are broken without repairs, the public toilets do not have a roof," said Zuma.
Zuma started the visit by inspecting the Nyaka dam and officially launched the tap water supply in the Blakfes (breakfast) community.
Here, Rainah Moriri, 60, welcomed the water supply but complained that roads are a problem. "Our children are dying in these roads. We are thankful for the water as we used to travel for over 10km, but now you must fix the roads. Our children cannot go to school when there is rain," said Moriri.
Zuma also handed over a fully furnished house to the Mnisi family. Their new home also includes a water tank.
Thato Mnisi, 27, who looks after her siblings, said she used to walk far to fetch water for them.