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Water woes far from over

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The Diamond City is grappling with yet another water shutdown and with the taps remaining dry one week after the initial closure, it seems the city’s water woes are far from over.

Sol Plaatje municipal manager Thapelo Matlala provides an update on the water shutdown. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE DIAMOND City is grappling with yet another water shutdown and with the taps remaining dry one week after the initial closure, it seems the city’s water woes are far from over.

During an impromptu media briefing on day eight of what was supposed to be a five-day shutdown, the Sol Plaatje Municipality revealed yesterday that they have encountered challenges related to supplying water to high-lying areas.

Municipal manager Thapelo Matlala said the water levels at Newton Reservoir are not satisfactory and are inadequate for residents’ needs.

He explained, “The pressure is low on the 900mm diameter pipeline. We are not receiving sufficient water at the Newton Reservoir in order to distribute water to areas in the CBD and Kimberley suburbia. This has resulted in an interruption that will last a number of days. Our experts are doing calculations on how long this inconvenience will last.”

Matlala assured residents that measures are in place to aid residents during this time.

“We will be supplying residents with an alternative water supply through JoJo tanks and water tankers until we are able to return to normality and the Newton Reservoir levels are back to normal. We are in the process of planning on dates for the interruption and we will communicate this.

“It’s unfortunate that we are experiencing delays in terms of the pressure in the pipeline. If we do not build the necessary pressure in the pipeline, then we are not able to fill the reservoir.”

Despite the current woes, Matlala deemed the shutdown work a success with long-term benefits.

“Nothing went wrong during the work. This was an unprecedented project and, going forward, we will see stability in the water supply to Kimberley. The kind of work that was done at Riverton, was work that was long overdue. This is just an inconvenient delay that we are experiencing, the project itself was a success.”

However, city residents didn’t share his optimism.

“We’ve been patient with the municipality, but they’re back to their old ways again. We were happy when the water was restored on Monday as promised, but the relief was short-lived as the taps went dry not long after.

“The city has been without water for over a week. If they knew about the challenge, why didn’t they communicate and give residents a chance to prepare? Most of the city is now without water, and there’s no timeline for resolving this interruption. Water is a vital resource. These ongoing water issues, which the municipality has been dealing with for years, are negatively impacting many people’s lives,” they lamented.

Several schools in the city notified parents of early dismissals due to the continued shutdown.

Local car wash businesses reported losses due to the shutdown. “We hoped the water would be restored this week. We were even pleased with the weekend’s heavy rains, thinking the shutdown was well-timed as business is slow on rainy days.

“But with dry taps and no indication of when water will be restored, our businesses are under strain. We rely entirely on water. No water means no operation, which means no income,” they said.

The management of the North Cape Mall informed tenants that restrooms will remain closed for as long as there’s no water.

The CEO of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), Sharon Steyn, expressed her dissatisfaction with the municipality’s actions.

“Last week’s shutdown was handled professionally by the municipality. There had been communication in advance as well as constant communication as the work progressed. Well done to the team, like Ekapa Mining, who assisted the municipality on this project.”

However, she criticised their lack of response when issues arose.

“If they have experienced problems during the work, why did they not simply tell residents, so that people know what to expect? There are now old age homes, schools and pre-schools, as well as local businesses, that are left with no water.

“The municipality has taken their water tankers and JoJo tanks out of certain areas and now those people are left to go for days without water. That is unacceptable,” said Steyn.

Steyn pledged to continue seeking answers from the municipality about the city’s water issues.

“We will be in grave trouble if we still have these problems once the Wildeklawer rugby tournament kicks off. There will be an influx of people streaming into the city and if we cannot supply the people with water, it will have terrible consequences on the city’s economy. The municipality needs to be truthful and take residents into its confidence and declare what the true problems are with the water,” she said.

The provincial chairperson of the National Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc), Abraham Malo, said he is hoping for a permanent solution to the problem.

“We are hoping that the municipality will get a permanent solution to this challenge as it has badly affected many businesses, such as car washes and hairdressers. This will have a negative impact on the economy as well as unemployment in the Province,” Malo said.

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