Breyten residents left high and dry

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GK CRONJE

2 November 2021

Residents are left to fend for themselves as the water shortages and outages continue.

Despite a successful complaint by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the residents in Breyten and surrounding areas are still left without water for days on end, with little to nothing forthcoming from Msukaligwa Local Municipality (MLM) in terms of a solution to the water woes. In the letter that the DA submitted to the SAHRC, the focus of the Commission was called to the provision of water in Breyten, but more notably Skaapruiz and Nyibe. A slew of residents in Breyten, Chrissiesmeer and surrounding areas have been sitting with bone dry taps, or sporadic water supply of a mere two hours per day. The water issues in Breyten have been escalating for more than 6 months, with nothing but golden promises and poor excuses forthcoming from the municipality.

“For a week we have been without water here in Breyten. The water supply is restored from 03:00 - 05:00, and after that there are no water in the taps. How is it acceptable for us to live like this?” a resident of Breyten lamented to the Tribune ePaper. Despite the big hoopla that had been made by the National Government regarding the Greater Breyten Water Supply Scheme Project, which will be completed in 2024, residents still suffer on a daily basis, with the 2024 completion date being but a speck on the dry horizon. “I work at a mine near Breyten, and the useless municipality expects me to make do with no water for weeks on end. It is a struggle on a daily basis, and Msukaligwa Municipality just doesn’t care. They don’t answer their phones, they don’t respond to complaints. They simply ignore as as if we are rubbish,” another resident stated.

A few good Samaritans have made their boreholes available for neighbors to utilize, but charity can only extend so far, as lack of service delivery from MLM takes its toll. The promised water tankers from MLM also rarely make their arrival. “If the tankers arrive to deliver water, it is during the day. We are all at work during daytime, a tanker arriving at a closed door helps bugger all. The municipality just talks a load of rubbish, and makes empty promises that they fail to fulfill,” an extremely irate resident told the Tribune ePaper. Another resident lamented the constant barrage of alleged lies and tomfoolery from MLM with the greatest of disgust. “I have an entire folder of screenshots from messages that the municipality sends, filled with poor excuses promises they never deliver on. They think that we’re idiots, that we can’t see that they are lying. The stories that they fabricate are nowhere near the same as the stories that our ward councillors tell us,” another resident explosively stated. “The call centre is just another useless part of the municipality. All they feed us are lies upon lies, and the stories they make up doesn’t even remotely coincide with what the technicians and municipal speakers on the WhatsApp group tells us. They don’t even give us reference numbers, they don’t take our details. What is the use of a call centre, if they don’t answer the phones 99% of the time?” he barked angrily.

Speaking to Msukaligwa Local Municipality on a previous occasion regarding the exact same issue, no tangible information had been forthcoming either. Apart from the copy and paste response that residents have come to expect by now, citing the usual scapegoats of lack of equipment, and the old faithful trump card stating lack of funds and a cut budget, to date, no concrete plan of action has been made available. In recent weeks, MLM claimed that vandalism of infrastructure, as well as equipment failure, amongst other issues, were to blame. However, there has been no action taken to actively remedy the situation in Breyten. Instead, the project from the DWS is being used a show horse to appease the residents, instead of immediate action being taken. “What is this nonsense about a water pipeline upgrade. We don’t care about upgrades. They just use it to pretend that they’re doing something for residents. We are struggling with water right now. Some of us have been without water for 5 months, and now the municipality comes with a story of water supply in 2024. What will that water help us in two years? Must we then live without water for two years until the municipality decides that it wants to care about residents? It is a joke.” a resident from KwaZanele told the Tribune ePaper.

A large collective or residents have had absolutely no water since February 2021, and it’s not getting any better. Empty promises and tall tales from Msukaligwa Local Municipality further frustrates residents, and a complete lack of response from ward councillors further fan the flames.

The Tribune ePaper lodged an enquiry with Msukaligwa Local Municipality, requesting a statement regarding the complaints with the SAHRC, and what Msukaligwa Local Municipality is doing to remedy the immediate situation to alleviate the plight of residents in Breyten and other areas. MLM replied with the following: “There's nothing untoward and/or unheard of in a constitutional democracy that a chapter nine institution, be it public protector or Human Rights Commission of South Africa, will from time to time intervene on behalf of the citizenry, and to issue out directives as and when they deem it necessary to any organ of state. This indicates the effectiveness of the chapter nine institutions.”

Alas, residents are left to fend for themselves, as the water shortages and outages continue.