Tsomo’s mystery water tankers
Municipality says it provides a water tanker but residents say they’ve never seen one
By Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik
Residents of Mjulwa in Tsomo in the Eastern Cape say there has been no water in their communal taps since 2005. The municipality says has provided a water tanker, but the residents say they’ve never seen it.
Residents say they have to fetch water from the nearby Embhobheni river, or hire a truck to fetch water in Butterworth, which costs R1,000. The river is close to a dumping site, with used nappies lying a few metres from the water. The Embhobheni is also used by animals.
When GroundUp asked the Chris Hani District Municipality about this, spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa said the area had been provided with a water tanker.
But five residents interviewed by GroundUp said they had never seen a water tanker in their area.
Ward councillor Armon Mbotshane failed to show GroundUp the water tanker when requested to do so.
Resident Sabelo Lehlakane said even old people in the area had to walk long distances to get water, carrying 20-litre buckets. “Our river is close to the road. When it rains the oil and petrol from the tar road get washed into the river,” he said.
The City of Cape Town – and southwest Africa more generally – experienced its worst drought on record between 2015 and 2018. With fresh rains as well as careful water management, the city has now emerged from this environmental and economic emergency.
The final consequences of the drought might never be known for certain. This is because the effects on groundwater depletion or biodiversity loss may not appear until years after the event. But the economic impact of the drought is more easily identified. Over 30,000 jobs have been lost in the agricultural sector in the Western Cape region, caused by a 20% decrease in agricultural production.
There are other consequences too, such as the impact on the city’s international reputation, as well as residents’ and policymakers’ experiences of water restrictions and the threat of “Day Zero”.
After reports were sent to cabinet, water test results have not been released for five years
By Steve Kretzmann
A countrywide water shortage is a decade away unless urgent action is taken to rehabilitate and preserve our rivers and catchment areas, fix and maintain crumbling infrastructure, and implement water re-use.
Without intervention, South Africa faces a deficit of about 3,000 billion litres of water per year by 2030 the Department of Water and Sanitation told a ministerial interactive session on transformation in Boksburg on 15 February.
That is three times more than South Africa’s total current household usage. At 237 litres per day, which is what the DWS states is average household use, the 14.5 million households (2011 census figure) use over 1,250 billion litres per year. To this must be added agricultural, industrial and business use.
The Architect Africa News Network® is an autonomous built environment news + information broadcasting network focused on Architecture, Planning, Construction, Development, Urbanisation and the Human Condition in Africa