Home Opinion and Features Losing two drops in a close shave

Losing two drops in a close shave

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OPINION: Surely, if infrastructure is around 80 or even 50 years old, it should come as no surprise that it would need upgrading. And surely, those responsible for the upgrading should not wait until the infrastructure starts to fail before making a desperate plan to patch and plug, writes Lance Fredericks.

File picture: Supplied

WHAT is our beautiful little town coming to? What has happened to Kimberley?

Just the other day, during one of my morning walks a car scraped by me, so close that I am almost certain the driver could smell the ‘two drops’ that came out when I skrikked.

The driver, seemingly oblivious to the fact that I had suddenly become dehydrated, went on his merry way as if what he had done was normal. I, meanwhile, continued my stroll with quivering knees; fuming, muttering and mumbling to myself about how people cannot even show basic courtesy on the roads these days.

Just then I realised that the reason for the near miss was that I was exhibiting symptoms of a malady that is ravaging our city. The affliction is called ‘Kimberlitis’. It has a few symptoms, but the symptom that I was manifesting was the uncontrollable compulsion to walk on a road’s tarred surface and not on the sidewalk.

It’s true. You must have noticed how Kimberlitis has our city in its grip! On several occasions just this past week, I have found myself swerving towards potholes and oncoming traffic to avoid pedestrians who seem oblivious to the purpose of sidewalks. Sometimes they walk two or three abreast in the street, and look miffed if you get too close.

As I reflected on the incident where I almost got clipped, my temper cooled as I realised that I was encroaching on the driver’s domain after all. However, in my defence, on the section of road I was walking, it’s impossible to walk on the overgrown sidewalk.

Looking back, that ‘moment of friction’ was neither the driver’s nor my fault, and could perhaps – I emphasise ‘perhaps’ – be laid at the door of those whose responsibility it is to keep sidewalks clean. It is widely accepted that the area between a property’s boundary line and the kerbside is municipal property and therefore their responsibility.

I wonder how do I go about suing those responsible for my two lost drops?

Speaking of lost drops, with the temperatures holding steady in the mid- to high 30s and no rain seemingly forthcoming – even though I have washed my car twice – I was thinking that this may be the municipality’s doing. Maybe their strategy is to get the sun to burn the weeds to ashes. I must admit, in these temperatures it just might work.

However, what bakes weeds also bakes lawns, flowers and vegetable gardens, and with temperatures already approaching the 30s by 8am, and the hot wind that accompanies the baking sun, gardens in our city are going to be air-fried. I have been spending some of my free time trying to get our garden at home looking a bit more festive, so you may sympathise with how deflated I felt when a text message from BS Matlala, our city’s municipal manager, did the rounds this past week.

The message read: “The municipality appeals to residents and members of the public to stop watering their gardens and reserve water for consumption only. This will ensure that water pumped into the reservoirs is able to reach levels that generate enough pressure to supply all areas in Kimberley CBD and surrounds.”

At first, though I was a bit discouraged, I could see the value of getting our reservoirs’ levels up. However, another part of the MM’s message caused my brow to rise along with my ire, while my courage dropped through the floor.

“The Sol Plaatje Municipality would like to update the residents about the water supply interruption that will be taking place today at 16h00. This is a result of a leak on a 900mm diameter pipe. The pipeline was constructed in the 1940s and has aged, with its structural integrity compromised.”

ALSO READ: Kimberley’s water crisis sparks concern

I read that one sentence again: “The pipeline was constructed in the 1940s and has aged, with its structural integrity compromised.”

Only one question went through my mind, over and over again … “How many times was the pipeline, built in the 1940s, checked, serviced and maintained up to 1994; and how was it maintained over the past 29 years?”

Surely, if infrastructure is around 80- or even 50 years old, it should come as no surprise that it would need upgrading. And surely, those responsible for the upgrading should not wait until the infrastructure starts to fail before making a desperate plan to patch and plug. Besides, patching and plugging would have been unnecessary had the infrastructure been maintained; had preventative measures been put in place ahead of time.

Maybe it’s impolite to say this, but one is really tempted to wonder how people earn their salaries if basic tasks are not being done. I wonder how many, if any, heads will roll because of this; what could be called a catastrophic failure in doing what you’ve been paid for?

But these days, I have noticed that heads seldom roll, they’re just redeployed elsewhere. So maybe I should rather wonder if the Christmas bonus will be paid this year. My guess is, it probably will.

And this problem may be bigger than simply having wilting gardens. With megalitres of water oozing into the veld somewhere between Riverton and Kimberley this is certain to result in pools of stagnant water. And what breeds in stagnant water? Mosquitoes of course. And what disease is associated with mosquitoes? The dreaded malaria.

Around 7,000 cases of malaria have been recorded in South Africa since the start of 2023. Granted that it’s up in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. But is it wise to tempt fate and bolt the stable door after the horse has galloped off?

Surely an ounce of prevention would be better than an outbreak … Am I being too much of an alarmist? I don’t think so.

Apparently, the first signs that you have been infected with a mosquito-borne disease shows in the eyes. It’s true … Researchers say that if your eyes suddenly develop a tendency to roll up and back you could have been infected.

This was discovered when the earliest known fossils of mosquito larvae were discovered in an unexpected part of the world. Foula, located in the Shetland archipelago of Scotland turns out to be the cradle of ‘mosquito-kind’.

In-depth studies by researchers at ‎the University of Edinburgh have unearthed a remarkable fact: The high pitched whine of mosquitoes – that sound that keeps us awake at night, and sometimes leads to those frustrating nocturnal gogga hunts – is simply due to the fact that mosquitoes are Scottish.

And like any proud Scot, they’re playing the bugpipes.

Now, quickly … check your eyes!

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