Breyten residents left weeks without water

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GK CRONJE

16 February 2021

The circulating reason for the outage seems to point towards a broken reservoir pump, which has allegedly been run into oblivion due to lack of maintenance and acts of sabotage and vandalism.

Residents in Breyten are having a hard time with the lack of service delivery from Msukaligwa Local Municipality (MLM), as a myriad of households have been sitting with dry taps for extended periods of time. Complaints have flooded in regarding this issue, with residents stating that some areas have been left without water for four weeks, with no action from MLM. The circulating reason for the outage seems to point towards a broken reservoir pump, which has allegedly been run into oblivion due to lack of maintenance and acts of sabotage and vandalism. The call centre is of no use, with residents stating that the phone simply remains unanswered. Further aggravating the outage is the fact that the water tankers from MLM fails to deliver potable water to households in need, allegedly only supplying one street at a time, and calling it a day, leaving the rest high and dry. Complaints have also been received regarding the attitude of water tanker operators, who seem to feel nothing for the plight of residents. Many residents have also stated that MLM has, to date, failed to deliver on their promise of water tankers, as declared on 1 February 2021. Relayed messages from officials state that the pump is indeed out of commission, and that a lack of funds prevents MLM from repairing the pump and filling the reservoirs. Allegations have also surfaced that the main pump ha been replaced with a smaller pump, incapable of sufficient pressure to fill the reservoir.

When asked about this allegation, the MLM spokesman claimed that he would enquire from the technical team. At the time of press, no response on this matter had been received. Upon enquiry, MLM supplied the Tribune with an update on the reservoir levels. However, the levels have come under scrutiny, as this exact same message had been forwarded to other residents days prior, with the levels of the reservoirs being identical. MLM claims that the reservoir in Breyten has a level of 60%, yet a large amount of households are still left without running water. Serious concerns have also been raised as schools opened yesterday (Monday, 15 February 2021), with no running water in large parts of Breyten.. As hygiene is paramount during the pandemic, this is a serious cause for concerns, especially with the washing of hands and toilets that needs to be flushed. Residents alleges that the municipality is blatantly lying to them, with each official singing a different tune as to the reason for the interruption and water outage. MLM has said that residents can contact CDW Mandla Manana on 060 502 7459, Ward Councillor Dhludhlu on 082 935 1257, or the contact centre on 080 001 4903 with complaints and queries.

MLM has issued and update regarding the water outage in Breyten, stating the following: “Torbenite pump room update - At the Breyten water plant, there was no flow from the pump room, due to vandalized infrastructure as per the video. The situation was exacerbated by the load shedding over the past few days. Water has been restored in many part of Breyten and Chrissiesmeer, however the high lying areas are still experiencing low pressure or no water at all. Both maintenance team are on site for the repairs. The restoration time not provided. MLM apologize to the affected community for the inconvenience caused by the interruptions.” The video of the pump room can be viewed on our Facebook page, Tribune Ermelo. This update, provided by MLM on Monday (yesterday), is of little comfort to affected residents, who received the same update during the course of last week, and are still without running water at this point in time. It has, however, come to the attention of the Tribune that the alleged vandalism of the pump had taken place between 2 and 4 February 2021, with it being nearly two weeks since the incident, with MLM simply not being able to deliver water to the community.

The discrepancy in the timeline of events, as well as conflicting reports from officials have raised serious concerns from residents, as an evident lack of transparency from MLM seriously brings into question what the situation is at the Breyten pump station. MLM has wholly dodged the enquiries and addressing the main concerns of residents, and had failed to respond to enquiries as to the date when the video was taken, and when the reservoir levels were last checked. Also, no indication has been provided as to the reason for the outage, as the MLM spokesman claimed to have been waiting for feedback from the technical department. The Tribune requested a statement from MLM, which had not received. At the time of press, there had been no clarity from MLM regarding the situation in Breyten, the steps being taken to remedy the outage, nor the supply of water tankers. The operating condition and level of efficiency of the pump is also unknown at this time.