Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo updates residents on Kimberley’s water woes
AS FROM Sunday, the city’s water supply will be interrupted in low-lying areas between 6pm and 5am and in high-lying areas, including the CBD, from 8pm until 6am.
Following a special council meeting that was held on Sunday, Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo assured residents that the city’s water is safe to drink.
“The water was grey, yellow, brown and muddy but now it is clearer. It is not where it should be but there is a dramatic improvement. I have been drinking the water from my tap at home,” said Mabilo.
This is while many residents have complained recently about getting diarrhoea after drinking city tap water.
Meanwhile, a Kimberley Water Disaster community meeting was held on Sunday, where suggestions were made to form a ratepayers’ association, request intervention from the South African Human Rights Commission and to institute class action against the municipality.
Community members proposed that the military become involved in fixing the city’s water problems or that residents with knowledge of chemical technology and pumps volunteer their services, in light of the shortage of skills at the municipality.
Video: Danie van der Lith
Mabilo also said on Sunday that all the major and minor leaks on the 965 millimetre pipeline from Riverton had been repaired.
“Other repairs are ongoing. The water in the city has improved tremendously. Riverton has improved its capacity to 90 percent and the levels at Newton Reservoir have also improved.”
Mabilo explained that the water had to be backwashed and chemically treated following the recent floods, which had affected the quality of the water.
“The water supply had to be interrupted as the plant was only operating at 30 percent. Although the plant is not at full capacity, it is improving significantly. We request the community to use water sparingly and apologise for any inconvenience caused by the delay.”
He stated that while the water purification plant was constrained and was facing serious challenges, it had not deteriorated beyond repair.
“The intensity of the floods, where debris and dirt collected in the water, and climate change contributed to the water challenges. It is not only Kimberley but the whole country that was affected. We are not out of the woods because more heavy rains have been predicted.”
Mabilo said that the municipality was in the process of recouping money owed to it by local businesses and state entities so that it could pay the R60 million debt owed to the Department of Water and Sanitation for bulk water.
“We have a recovery plan.”
He added that seven water tankers were providing water to informal settlements that are without access to water.
An additional six water tanks are providing water to schools, hospitals and the malls.
“Our teams are responding to these challenges. Schools, hospitals, clinics, old-age homes and other critical stakeholders are prioritised on an ongoing basis ”
Mabilo added that criminal charges would be laid against anyone involved in sabotage.
“We suspect internal elements were involved because you need a step ladder to access the one set of valves at the Mittah Seperepere Centre. Our staff have been caught red handed stealing our assets.”
ANC chief whip Perdy van Wyk stated that a full investigation would be launched.
“This matter is serious because residents were denied an essential right to water. There are workers who are no longer employed in the organisation who may have knowledge of the workings of the municipality. It is a case of clear sabotage as valves were purposely closed when they should have been opened. We will investigate the motive for their actions and inform the public of our findings,” said Van Wyk.
Mabilo added that the filters were in good working order. “We will have to appoint contractors in the meantime to assist as we have a shortage of skilled staff. We are in the process of training 28 artisans to assist with water and sanitation. We have been trying to manage the challenges internally.”
Acting water city engineer, Hennie Harding indicated that while the auditor-general had indicated that water losses amounted to 62 percent due to pipe leaks, the actual loss amounted to between 35-37 percent.
“Water losses at Riverton should be at two percent but are between 10-12 percent. Administrative losses exceed technical losses. Even with the leak on the 965 millimetre pipe, 11 mega litres of water was lost per day. The leaks at 3SAI Battalion will be costly,” said Harding.
He stated that vandalism and theft remained a big threat to water security.
“The pipes need to be electrically insulated to prevent them from burning out. There are a number of rotten pipes situated in areas, including Central Road, Dalham Road and Broadway. We have drawn up a list and will prioritise which roads will receive the necessary attention.”