Opposition parties blame ANC for looming water crisis

Govt failed to spend R1,6bn earmarked for fixing infrastructure during the past financial year.

A tap in the Marry Me informal settlement in Pretoria. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Opposition parties are laying the blame for interruptions in water supply at the door of the government.

Members of Parliament (MPs) were debating a motion on the water crisis in the national Assembly this afternoon.

They've accused the African National Congress (ANC) of failing to carry out water infrastructure repairs and stop leaks.

The absence of Water Affairs and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane during at times heated debate this afternoon also did not go unnoticed.

Democratic Alliance MP Leon Basson says there's a difference between water restrictions and water shedding.

"Water shedding on the other hand is when communities are left without access [to] drinking water as a direct result of the ANC's failure of expanding, maintaining, managing and financing the country's water infrastructure."

He's accused Mokonyane of being in denial after she reportedly insisted there'd be no water shedding.

Mokonyane's department failed to spend R1,6 billion earmarked for fixing infrastructure during the past financial year.

Basson said, "In the current water crisis, Minister Mokonyane is in denial. On eNCA, the the minister said: We will never ever have situation of water shortage, it will never ever happen."

The National Freedom Party's Maliyakhe Shelembe blames poor planning by government.

"In the past 21 years, the ANC government has failed to sufficient forward planning as it fails to do forward planning for electricity. Now we are faced with distinct water dread of water shedding."

ANC MPS hit back, saying many millions more people now had access to water but that water infrastructure was initially built to serve just a privileged few.

EKURHULENI TO POSSIBLY SHUT DOWN WATER SUPPLY TONIGHT

While municipalities across the country appeal to citizens to use less water, the City of Ekurhuleni says it will shut down supply to its northern, southern and eastern areas if consumption does not drop by 10pm tonight.

At the same time, the City of Johannesburg has warned that it will start implementing water rationing if levels in its reservoirs remain low.

Ekurhuleni says the levels in its reservoirs are currently at a critical stage, with taps in large parts of Germiston and Etwatwa township already running dry.

City of Ekurhuleni spokesman Themba Gadebe says residents need to practice more responsible water usage as reservoir levels are critical.

"We are currently monitoring the situation and if there is no change or improvement, we may have to shut down at least during the off peak between 10pm and 3am."

Meanwhile, Johannesburg Environment and Infrastructure MMC Matshidiso Mfikoe says they want to avoid water rationing at all costs.

"If we save enough water, we wouldn't have to go to level three and there is no panic now. But people just need to make sure that we keep the levels that we having now."

With the reservoirs running dry, water will now have to be pumped from the Vaal, Sterkfontein and Grootdraai dams and it's unclear how long it will take to return to normalcy.

RAND WATER STILL UNDER SEVERE STRAIN

Rand Water has also warned its bulk water supply is still under severe strain with the prospect of continuous availability becoming worse over time.

It's blamed the low water supply on low rainfall and high temperatures which it says has led to demand exceeding supply.

Rand Water's reservoirs in the south of Johannesburg ran dry this week.

Rand Water chief operations officer Sipho Mosai says their system can supply around 4,800 mega litres of water a day.

"The demands are ranging around 5,000 mega litres per day. It remains under strain in that sense, it's not that there is no water that has been put in the system but we don't have enough in the reservoirs to augment what we are supplying."

THERE IS CURRENTLY NO WATER IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS OF GERMISTON:

  • Dawnview;

  • Gerdview;

  • Marlands;

  • Germiston CBD;

  • Elsburg;

  • Lambton;

  • Fishers Hill;

  • Wadeville;

  • Bedfordview;

  • Primrose Hill;

  • Sunny Rock.

THE EMM IS HOWEVER, PROVIDING WATER TANKERS AT THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS:

  • Opposite Old Marlands Swimming Pool near Solly's Supermark;

  • Corner Elbertfield Avenue and Windsor Street;

  • Howe Circle;

  • Corner Jubilee and Ralston Avenues;

  • Corner Fourth Avenue and Pipe Street;

  • Corner Riley Road and Van Buuren Road, Bedfordview,;

  • Van Buuren Road (east of Harper Road) in front of Virgin Active, ;

  • Parking area at KFC, Kirkby Road, Bedford Gardens, ;

  • Corner Lucas Lane and Norman Road, Bedfordview (in front of Hyundai);

  • Corner Fairway Avenue and Penthurst Avenue, Essexwold

LEVEL 2 RESTRICTIONS

  • Residents may not water or irrigate their gardens between 6am and 6pm or fill up their swimming pools.

  • Hose pipes may also not be used to wash cars or paved areas.

  • Although water will still be available around the clock, pressure in the city's taps will be reduced.

  • If the situation worsens, more restrictions will be imposed, including supply cuts.