City residents have labelled the recent request by Sol Plaatje Municipality to community members who own trucks and bakkies to assist in the distribution of water as a fruitless and wasteful exercise.
CITY residents have labelled the recent request by Sol Plaatje Municipality to community members who own trucks and bakkies to assist in the distribution of water as a fruitless and wasteful exercise.
Pandemonium broke out last Thursday after the municipality released a notice requesting residents with heavy vehicles to assist with the distribution of water from the Riverton treatment plant to the different residential areas in Kimberley.
Residents said that despite the efforts by the municipality to provide water to residents speedily, the entire process left everyone high and dry.
“The water shutdown was an entire mess. The municipality notified residents about the water shutdown after they had already switched the water off. They claimed it was an emergency water shutdown after they discovered two leaks. However, when did they discover these leaks and why were residents not afforded an opportunity to prepare for the shutdown?
“Contrary to the previous promises from the municipality that they are addressing the water challenges faced by the city and that they are trying to avoid another water shutdown during the festive season, their actions show that they are actually moving in the direction of an annual festive season water shutdown. It is the same script with just changes to the cast.
“This time around, however, it appeared that even the municipality was caught off guard, in the same way as the households who had not taken any measures to ease the burden of the water shutdown.
“This was probably the worst water shutdown the city has experienced. There were no roaming JoJo tanks available to provide water to those who were without water. Vulnerable people were left parched and people had to walk long distances in search of some water.
“The notice that was sent out for help to distribute water also turned into a mess as it was not monitored and most people with access to trucks and bakkies only catered for themselves and their families, as well as their friends. The destitute people were not provided with water.”
The angry residents said the municipality could have utilised the funds that would be paid to the “water distributors” for a better cause.
“We do not know how much these distributors were promised to be paid nor do we know how many service providers were actually hired on the day This is gross fruitless expenditure by the municipality.
“We do not know whether people were paid for the kilometres they travelled or whether they were paid for every litre of water they distributed. There was no clarity on the matter. People could just go and put their names on a list and claim they were distributing water. There was nobody to actually ensure that those tankers actually delivered water to the rightful areas. Many people merely went to ‘steal’ water and will be compensated by the municipality for doing so,” they said.
Municipal communications manager Thabo Mothibi acknowledged that the process was flawed and that some people took advantage of the situation.
“In an emergency situation like the past one, one will not have a 100% perfect system in terms of management and trucks being dispatched to certain points,” said Mothibi.
“At some stage, we realised that there were bigger commercial entities who sent in their trucks to collect water and never actually delivered the water to people. That frustrated distributors who were focussing on disturbing water in areas like Galeshewe. There were also private people who went to fill up their JoJo tanks.
“We tried to put a system that was efficient in place. We admit that in between the tankering of water to and from affected areas, it might have resulted in some residents not getting water on time.”
Mothibi said the community protest action in different areas also hampered the municipality’s efforts.
“When we look at what transpired last week, we had areas that were completely inaccessible as some residents closed off the roads. We admit that by the time the announcement was made and the time that tankering should have been implemented, that the huge delay created the mayhem experienced on the day. We wish to apologise to residents for that.
“Even in an emergency, we should be working on a blueprint of tankering and have something solid in place. The monitoring was not as effective as possible and, in some instances, the system was abused. There were instances where we depended on the truthfulness of suppliers and that they would realise that we were in a dire situation as water is a human right.
“Going further, we need to work on these hiccups so that such instances should not befall us again. We have learnt a great deal from what transpired last week.”
Mothibi said they were still working on the compensation process.
“We are still going to work on the compensation of distributors. There are quite a number of distributors who indicated that they have not yet been compensated or that the system has not yet released compensation to everyone.
“People also need to bear in mind that there is quite a process as far as when one can compensate a service provider. We will try to finish off that process as soon as possible so that we do not have a repeat of what transpired last week” Mothibi said.