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City shuts down

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The impact of the shutdown would be kept to a minimum where possible

Picture: Soraya Crowie

KIMBERLEY is preparing to shut down as the Sol Plaatje Municipality shuts off the supply of water to the city for three days.

Schools in the city, as well as several government departments, have indicated that they will be closed today when the municipality cuts the water to the entire city, in order to allow major upgrading work on the city’s water network to be undertaken.

Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson, Geoffrey van der Merwe, confirmed that schools will be closed today, as will the department’s offices.

He added that in the eventuality that the water supply was not restored as planned by Monday, a further determination would be made regarding schooling on Monday morning.

Several other government departments are also expected to be closed today.

The city’s private hospitals have also prepared for the shutdown and spokesperson for Mediclinic Kimberley and Gariep, Denise Coetzee, explained that a water shutdown called for very careful planning in the hospital environment.

“Provision has to be made for water for food preparation, laundry, basic patient hygiene, sterilisation of theatre instruments, general hygiene and the flushing of toilets,” Coetzee said.

She added that if the shutdown only lasted for the weekend, as planned, the impact on service delivery would be minimal.

“If the shutdown extends to Monday, the impact will be much bigger, as it will impact on planned surgeries.”

Coetzee stated that the planned water shutdown over the weekend would have a definite financial impact on the hospital.

“Drinking water and ice have to be brought in to ensure that there is as little as possible impact on service delivery. Bottled water is also purchased for the theatre staff to scrub their hands before and after operations.”

Mediclinic Kimberley has 37 500 litres reserve water in tanks at the hospital, as well as a borehole.

“The water from the borehole has been tested and is fit for human consumption,” Coetzee said. “It delivers 4 000 litres per hour, which is more than our daily use of 3 500 litres.”

Mediclinic Gariep has 120 000 litres reserve in water tanks, as well as a borehole. “The water from this borehole is grey water and will be used to flush toilets.”

According to Coetzee, surgeries will continue as usual at the hospital today and on Monday.

“As a precaution, to save as much water as possible, no regular operations will be done in the theatres over the weekend. Only emergency operations will be done tomorrow and on Sunday.”

The hospital also has disposable linen available on standby if necessary. “Our autoclaves work with recycled water, therefore this will not be problem with the water shutdown. We have already prepared extra sterilised theatre linen packs so that we have extra stock to use during operations this weekend.”

A total of 3 000 litres of drinking water has been bought for patients as well as the preparation of food over the weekend.

“With these measures in place we will be able to cope without normal water supply for the next five days if necessary,” Coetzee added.

Lenmed Kimberley hospital manager, Hector Mackay, said the hospital had two 196 000 litres tanks as well as several JoJo Tanks – “so we should be okay”.

He added that the hospital had at this stage no booked cases for today but it would be able to deal with emergencies without any problems.

The Kimberley Hospital has meanwhile indicated that arrangements have been made with the Sol Plaatje Municipality to bring additional water to replenish the storage tanks at the facility for usage by patients and personnel.

Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson, Lulu Mxekezo, said that the hospital had also rescheduled non-urgent outpatient appointments to minimise the number of patients at the health facility today.

“The laundry has been switched off for the next three days with the hope that we will manage to supply clean linen until Monday morning.”

Mxekezo indicated that all planned (elective) procedures had been rescheduled to next week but emergency procedures would still be performed.

“We hope that the sterilised theatre equipment will sustain us for emergency procedures but we will assess the stock as the days progress. We have arranged with neighbouring hospitals to assist with the sterilisation of theatre equipment if a need arises during the water shutdown period.”

Arrangements have been made with the kitchen for additional supplies of bottled water.

In terms of other health facilities in the city, Mxekezo said most had water tanks “but the few without water tanks have made contingency plans for water supply”.

“Health services will be delivered normally.”

Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci) CEO, Sharon Steyn, said yesterday that she had not heard of any businesses that would be closed today as a result of the water shutdown.

“As it is a Friday, however, some businesses might close early because of the water, but I haven’t been informed.”

She pointed out that the Sol Plaatje Municipality had played its role in informing all residents and businesses in the city timeously of the shutdown.

“As a result people have been able to plan in advance. Water will also be supplied by the municipality at various points throughout the city so it is not as though residents are being left without any water at all. Unfortunately, this is work that must be done and residents need to accept this so that the water issues in the city can be dealt with once and for all.”

Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said yesterday that the shutdown would go ahead today, despite indications that rain could be on the cards this weekend.

“There are five major areas where work will be undertaken. Two of these, namely the join in Bultftontein Road, as well as the work at Riverton, do not require any welding so it does not matter if it rains. However, the repairs to the three major leaks on the pipe from Riverton to Kimberley will require welding and the weather could affect the work that is being undertaken here.

“If it rains, it shouldn’t be a problem because we can erect a shelter over the area being worked on. However, if there is severe weather with thunder and lightning this could present a danger to the workers and might result in some delays.”

Matsie was, however, optimistic that water to the city would be restored by Monday.

“The biggest issue is to drain the water out of the system as we can only work when the pipes are dry.”

He explained that the plan was to cease pumping water from the Vaal River tonight and at the same time shut down the water supply from the Newton Reservoir to the city. “However, there will still be water in the system so some parts of the city will still have water on Friday morning and possibly even on Friday afternoon although the pressure will be very low.”

Matsie added that the municipality would remain open today. “We have tanks at the Civic Centre and we have an ethical and moral obligation to residents to keep our doors open.”

Matsie gave the assurance that the impact of the shutdown would be kept to a minimum where possible.

“The hospitals and malls will all have water, while many businesses in Kimberley have their own tanks.”

The municipality has meanwhile informed residents that Waterworks Road was closed yesterday afternoon and would remain closed until Sunday.

The municipality will be making use of the shutdown to also fix the leaks at the Newton Reservoir as well as decommission the old water pipe leading from the reservoir to the Sol Plaatje Municipality and commission the new line.