Gauteng residents are faced with a severe water crisis due to Rand Water’s incompetence and failure to provide water tankers to the affected residents during the water outages caused by the maintenance of water infrastructure.
Rand Water has scheduled water outages from 1-3 April 2022 due to major maintenance of water infrastructure. This will result in many areas across Gauteng not having water. The areas that will be most affected are parts of Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, and Mogale City.
The residents will be placed in a dire situation as municipalities do not have sufficient water tankers to provide water to the affected areas. The DA has been reliably informed that the Provincial Disaster Management does not have water tankers to assist municipalities to provide water for the affected residents. This will leave thousands of Gauteng residents without water as Rand Water has on several occasions failed to provide water tankers or an alternative to the affected residents.
Based on previous experiences, some parts of Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Mogale City have been without water for nearly a week due to the failure by Eskom to provide electricity to Rand Water. This resulted in Rand Water unable to supply water to numerous reservoirs. Electricity was restored; however, it took some days for Rand Water to fill up the water in the reservoirs to a sufficient level to reinstate supply.
It means that our people will suffer without water as Rand Water does not effectively communicate to the municipalities exactly how many days residents will be without water. Rand Water does not include the days that they will be waiting for the reservoirs to fill up in their communication. Our people will be left in the dark and the municipalities will be blamed.
The DA has written to the Gauteng Premier, MEC for COGTA, HOD of COGTA, Provincial Disaster Management and the CEO of Rand Water to urgently assist affected municipalities with water tankers to distribute water to the affected areas during water outages. We also requested that the Premier’s office should assist in ensuring that Rand Water is held financially accountable for failing to provide water during the planned water outages.
We have not yet received responses from all of the above. The DA also posed questions directly to the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu last week during a ministerial briefing, where he gave no real commitment as to how they will address the water crisis in Gauteng, but merely shifted the blame to load shedding which is as a result of the failures of Eskom which is a national entity.
The DA will be embarking on the following initiatives to put pressure on both provincial and national government to ensure access to uninterrupted water supply for all Gauteng residents:
• Motion: the DA will table an urgent motion in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to debate the water crisis in Gauteng on Friday 25 March 2022 before the next planned major Rand Water outage on 1 April 2022.
• Petition: the DA will be petitioning the Premier and COGTA MEC to lobby their national counterparts to declare all water infrastructure national key points to be exempted from load shedding and to engage with the South African National Defence Force to assist with water tankers during the water outages. We also demand a proper audit of all our water infrastructure in Gauteng
• Memorandum: the DA will hand over a memorandum to the Premier, COGTA MEC and the CEO of Rand Water about the lack of water tankers during water outages, a severe lack of proper and regular maintenance of water infrastructure, and the need for a Water Indaba to discuss issues of investment into water infrastructure and funding as well as vandalism of water infrastructure
• Engagements: the DA will also be engaging with the Department of Water and Sanitation with regards to its refusal to grant a license to Rand Water to increase its water capacity supply. Gauteng has in the past years experienced huge growth in terms of the population due to immigration and there is a dire need to increase Rand Water’s water supply capacity. We will also be engaging with Rand Water in terms of their water infrastructure maintenance plans and their ineffective communication to the municipalities. We will engage with all our municipalities across Gauteng to discuss the water crisis and how they can intervene in terms of awareness campaigns on how to save water as a scarce resource.
• We will also be conducting oversight inspections of different water infrastructure points across the province to ascertain the challenges.
Based on last month’s experience, this crisis will manifest its self, starting from next week if there are no urgent interventions. The provincial disaster management centre does not have water tankers which means our residents will be severely impacted by the scheduled planned water outages.
Access to water is a basic human right and a Constitutional right. Water is life and people cannot do without it hence it is critical for all three spheres of government to ensure access to uninterrupted water for all residents.