Election hope for water woes

A water tanker. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/ Independent Newspapers

A water tanker. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/ Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 3, 2024


Durban — The devastating impact of last month’s bout of rainy weather is still plain to see.

A huge hole at the bottom of John Zikhali (Sydenham) Road, another on Gladys Mazibuko, huge damage to informal settlements, and even upmarket areas like uMhlanga were badly affected.

And that is just in Durban.

But the complaints concerning water provision date back much further than the latest rains, with residents in some areas in the north complaining of unreliable water supplies over 100 days.

Much of this can be traced to damage sustained in last April’s flood, with repairs still outstanding nearly a year later.

Many roads in suburban Durban have water seeping through the tar, testifying to leaking underground pipes and with the certainty of sinkholes to come.

To make matters worse, faulty meters inflate bills, and faulty air valves have stymied repair efforts.

Residents and businesses reporting leaks and water outages are waging individual, protracted battles to have the problems addressed.

But now comes an initiative aiming to unite their efforts and paint a picture of the state of water provision around the country, for Durban is not alone in its misery.

The WaterCAN map will not only present water consumers with an avenue to map out areas with problems, but give the authorities a visual representation of the extent of their failure to maintain and upgrade water infrastructure, and to respond to complaints.

However, infrastructure maintenance is but one of the issues contributing to the water disaster.

As Professor Bonke Dumisa points out, corruption in the water sector also plays a role, including allegations of service providers sabotaging infrastructure to create work for themselves, and for water tank owners.

The forlorn hope is that with the need to put one’s best foot forward in an election year, the embarrassment created by the WaterCAN effort will result in tangible action to get taps flowing again.

Independent on Saturday