Municipality, not water board, to blame for eThekwini dry taps, says DA

30 January 2024 - 17:10
DA provincial and national leaders are attempting to tackle eThekwini's water woes.
Image: Supplied DA provincial and national leaders are attempting to tackle eThekwini's water woes.

The DA says the uMngeni-uThukela Water (formerly Umgeni Water) board is not to blame for the eThekwini water crisis because it's the municipality that is failing residents and businesses. 

The party, including its parliamentary representatives in the water and sanitation portfolio committee, on Tuesday, together with board officials, met residents and businesses in Durban. 

The meeting follows months of water cuts that have led to protests over the municipality’s failure to supply paying customers with adequate water, sometimes for four days in a week. 

Businesses are also battling to function and have had to close their doors when there's no water.

DA KwaZulu-Natal leader Francois Rodgers laid the blame on the municipal political leadership and officials. 

“eThekwini municipality is the failure, under the mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, the EFF on infrastructure and incompetent senior officials. What we saw today is that the water supply is here, but once it leaves here it's not managed and people do not get water,” he said. 

DA shadow minister for water and sanitation Leon Basson said he would call for a parliamentary probe into the crisis. 

“We had a fruitful meeting with the water board, they indicated that they are sufficiently delivering water. The problem lies with the metro. The metro cannot supply people with water. There are maintenance problems. There are 40% direct water losses in the system, and that is why people don't have water,” he said.

“We are taking this to parliament., We are going to request the portfolio committee to come and have meetings with the community.”

The water woes are said to have begun with the floods, when pipes were washed away. Since then large parts of the city sometimes receive water intermittently, at times none at all. 

Stephen James, deputy shadow minister for water and sanitation, said there is no longer additional capacity from the water entity to provide water, adding that 40% technical water losses is “beyond serious, especially for a municipality the size of eThekwini”. 

“It's now time for real action to happen at eThekwini to ensure that a proper water supply is restored. And the good news is it can be restored — it just requires real focus, commitment from the necessary parties. We are going to do everything from a national perspective, the legislature and our councillors to ensure this gets resolved,” he said. 

Bradley Singh, a DA constituency head, said he was frustrated with the city's communication, and said they do not engage with the local representatives and there's no feedback to explain the water cuts. 

The DA’s visit to the water board follows protests over water outages for more than eight months in Phoenix.