Water crisis could lead to 'jobs bloodbath' in Nelson Mandela Bay

Four supply dams have reached a combined average capacity of 36%

01 October 2019 - 06:00 By Joseph Chirume for GroundUp
A damaged communal tap in Powerline informal settlement, in Motherwell, overflowed for weeks before the municipality repaired it.
A damaged communal tap in Powerline informal settlement, in Motherwell, overflowed for weeks before the municipality repaired it.
Image: Joseph Chirume/GroundUp

Business owners in Nelson Mandela Bay say they may have to shut their doors if the municipality fails to find other sources of water soon.

The municipality is experiencing a devastating drought as five of its dams run critically low. The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber has accused the municipality of failing to implement water-saving measures or bring in additional water supplies to communities.

In a statement on Thursday, the chamber said it had called on its more than 700 member companies to start “using water sparingly” due to the alarmingly low dam levels.

It stated that as of September 26, the four supply dams had reached a combined average capacity of 36%.

“If there is no constant flow of water in the metro, this will inevitably lead to a jobs bloodbath. Companies would be forced to close shop and leave thousands of breadwinners without their sources of income,” said chamber chief executive Nomkhita Mona.

She accused the municipality of delaying the provision of potable water, despite getting funding from the National Treasury earlier this year.

“We cannot rely on any of the delayed municipal projects. The Nooitgedacht water scheme has ground to a halt due to a myriad of reasons. This is despite the city receiving R233m from the Treasury in April,” she said.

Mona said that the lack of clear communication and decisive plans from the municipality added to problems experienced by businesses.

“There have been no aggressive water-saving campaigns to sensitise residents about the seriousness of this situation. We will continue to make this call and emphasise the urgency,” she said.

George Geleba, spokesperson for mayor Mongameli Bobani, said there were various plans in place to bring new water sources into the city. He said phase 3 of the Nooitgedacht water scheme was under way after a nearly 12-month delay due to insufficient funds at the water and sanitation department.

Geleba said they expected phase 3 of the project to be completed by April 2021. The total cost of the project is R982m.

He said some of the R233m given by Treasury was used to upgrade water reservoirs while the bulk of the money was assigned to the construction of the new Coegakop water treatment works.

Geleba said the municipality was looking for other sources of water, such as boreholes. He said reference numbers had been allocated to communal taps in informal settlements to easily identify them when they needed repairs.

 

  • Article originally published by GroundUp

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