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The Democratic Alliance (DA) in De Aar has met with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the local business sector in respect of the worsening water crisis in De Aar and is busy collaborating with the local community on a plan of action to address water shortages.
While challenges in De Aar are ongoing, they have deteriorated over the past two months, reaching critical levels in the last four weeks, with the worse affected areas experiencing no water, or only intermittent water supply during the night.
In addition to extreme temperatures and load-shedding, the problems stem largely from an ongoing lack of maintenance and poor infrastructure-related decision making by Emthanjeni municipality.
Ongoing fact-finding missions by the DA have revealed the following:
For the past year, the reservoir has never been more than 12% full. See pic here.
The hospital’s reservoir has been without water for the past four years because the municipal reservoir needs to be at least 70% full before water can be pumped to the hospital reservoir. See pic here.
In response to a growing number of water leaks on the main pipelines, that stretches 30 kilometers out of town, including leaks in and around town, the municipality’s solution is to bury the leaks in sand due to their incapability to properly repair them (see pic here).
Thirteen out of a total of 53 boreholes are not being used because the broken pumps on the boreholes were replaced with inferior pumps that cannot pump the same volumes of water.
Dysfunctional booster pumps are not repaired and the DA is still waiting for a reply from the Head of Infrastructure, who has been on sick leave, as to why three water pumps that were already installed in April, have yet to be operationalized.
The telemetry system for water management monitoring is also not working.
Health facilities, schools, old age homes, guest houses and businesses are under severe pressure. Those with the means are setting-up Jo-Jo tanks and, in recent months, 22 out of the 25 boreholes sunk in De Aar, have been by businesses to ensure their survival. See pics here and here. Yet, while De Aar is in the midst of a developing crisis, Emthanjeni is discussing performance bonuses of high-ranking officials who no longer work at the municipality, in the absence of money for infrastructure.
The DA last week met with a representative of the SAHRC in respect of our ongoing complaint with regards to the water situation. They committed to urgently request an intervention from the Department of Water and Sanitation and to bring out a report within the next two weeks. DA Constituency Head of Bo-Karoo, Fawzia Rhoda, has also engaged with COGHSTA MEC, Bentley Vas, who indicated that he was not aware of the crisis, and further forwarded a request for an intervention to the Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, to assist. We are also supporting a community petition, which has so far garnered 260 signatures against the water shortages. We are also working with local business to increase pressure on government to attend to broken water infrastructure.
Issued by Cllr Gerhard Engelbrecht - Emthanjeni Municipality