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Water crisis: Minister demands better communication

Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has set up a war room and hotline to help nip issues in the bud.

FILE: Residents from across Gauteng have lashed out at Rand Water following the cuts which started at the end of last week. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has called on Rand Water to improve its communication with residents of Gauteng on the unfolding water crisis.

Mokonyane held a meeting with Rand Water and other stakeholders managing the supply late last night and told them to remember their responsibility to keep customers informed.

Residents from across Gauteng have lashed out at Rand Water following the cuts which started at the end of last week.

The entity has blamed the shortages on power cuts and cable thefts at some of its pumping stations and has deployed water tankers to alleviate the demand.

Mokonyane's spokesperson Brenda Mpitsang says residents will now receive four updates a day on the situation.

"The minister believes that is there much more the board can do in terms of improving communications. There's going to be a hotline and also a war room."

She says the war room will have a multidisciplinary team which will ensure all issues are nipped in the bud.

WATER TO BE RATIONED

Rand Water will be rationing its supply in a desperate attempt to restore water services in areas affected by ongoing interruptions.

Power cuts caused by cable theft have been blamed for pumps failing at reservoirs.

With some areas having gone 10 days without water, Gauteng residents have described the situation as ridiculous and are demanding urgent answers.

The utility says valves will be closed in areas which have had water to accommodate areas where taps have already run dry.

But Rand Water's Justice Mohale says there no guarantees.

"The decision has been taken to close valves of certain reservoirs to rechannel water to affected areas."

Some of the affected areas include suburbs in the East Rand, West Rand and large parts of Pretoria.

PREMIER TO TACKLE CRISIS

Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Thursday said he would be meeting with mayors from municipalities across the province on Friday.

During today's meeting, Makhura will discuss the state of infrastructure, service delivery and the unfolding water crisis.

The premier says he's deeply concerned about the ongoing water cuts.

Makhura says along with the discussion on infrastructure investment, an urgent report on the water situation will be tabled.

"I have asked for an urgent report on the water situation in the province, including what the real problem is."

He says he hopes to get all the details and intends to arrange a meeting with Mokonyane.

There have been contradicting reports on when the supply will be fully restored.

Tankers have been dispatched to areas where taps are still dry.

PRESSURE ON ANC

Questions are being asked about whether the water crisis could affect the local government elections in Johannesburg in 2016.

Yesterday, the African National Congress (ANC) in Johannesburg admitted this could put the party under more pressure.

Municipal IQ managing director Kevin Allan said, "The ANC should feel some pressure to do what it can to resolve this issue."

The water problems are also leading to questions about whether the city's various entities are being properly co-ordinated.

Allan says these issues need to be discussed.

"Is it worth having an entity which is an independent and somewhat privatised organisation running first delivery, or should the mayor and city take full responsibility?"