The first phase of the RBWS, that included the installation of a 315mm pipe and two submersible pumps to supply water from the Orange River
WHILE taps have been installed in hundreds of homes in Ritchie, most are completely dry and residents have to fetch water in buckets.
The situation is reportedly due to the construction of the multi-million rand Ritchie Bulk Water Scheme (RBWS), which is expected to satisfy the needs of thousands of households in the area until 2035, but has left hundreds of households without water in their taps for several months already.
While the second phase of the RBWS is expected to be concluded by the end of the month, tempers in Fraser Moleketi Park, Rietvale, yesterday reached boiling point as taps at residences remain “bone-dry”.
Taps, that were installed at houses in 2017 have been dry for at least three months in large areas of the informal settlement and residents are forced to fill up buckets and containers at a single tap still producing running water. This collected water is all they have for drinking, washing, bathing, cooking, watering their gardens and flushing toilets.
“The situation has become unbearable, especially with temperatures continuing to rise. Hundreds of households are forced to get up at 3am, when it is still dark, to start queuing at a single tap to fill up buckets for their daily needs. It is especially our elderly community members who suffer the most, as they are unable to walk the long distances to the tap, or carry the heavy buckets home,” one resident, Shadrack Louw, said.
He added that the community had made several requests to the Sol Plaatje Municipality to intervene, but that these requests had “just been ignored”.
Another community member, Patricia Rossouw, added that it was not only taps that had run dry, but that the water supply to the toilets had also been cut.
“Our toilets are filling up and the smell becomes unbearable as we are unable to flush them. We are being forced to use the little water we do collect for basic needs, such as drinking and cooking,” she stated.
SPM spokesperson, Sello Matsie, yesterday acknowledged that some residences had been left without water as a result of the upgrading and refurbishment of the local water rising main and associated pumps that supply water to Motswedimosa, Modderriver, Rietvale and the old Ritchie, as part of the RBWS programme.
He did, however, say that the programme was expected to completed by the end of the month, when running water is also expected to return to taps in affected area. He further stated that the municipality would assist residents by sending water tanks to the area “as a matter of urgency”.
The first phase of the RBWS, that included the installation of a 315mm pipe and two submersible pumps to supply water from the Orange River, came at a cost in excess of R6.6 million and was completed during June 2017.
The second phase, which includes the installation of two elevated galvanized steel tanks, a ground reservoir and upgrades to several pumps, valued at over R30 million, is due to be completed by the end of the month, according to Matsie.
City engineer, Selesho Motale, previously said that approximately 1 118 sites in the area were found to be without basic water and sanitation, prior to the upgrade.
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) previously indicated that it was “confident” that the Bucket Eradication Programme (BEP), which is also being rolled out during the project, would “ensure more dignified sanitation services to the local community”.
“Through these upgrades and the Bucket Eradication Programme (BEP), residents can look forward to better access to water and more dignified sanitation in future,” spokesperson for the provincial DWS, Abe Abrahams, said at the time.