Sewage in tap water the ‘final straw’‚ say Hammanskraal residents
Residents of Hammanskraal‚ a community north of Pretoria‚ have demanded a permanent solution for their water crisis.
Water supplied to the community has been of poor quality for many years‚ according to residents. But this week they received water contaminated with faeces and other health hazards from the taps.
Saying this marked a final straw‚ a group of residents on Tuesday marched on the City of Tshwane local offices to demand a lasting solution.
In a bid to sort out the problem‚ the municipality cut water supply to Hammanskraal and surrounding communities on Tuesday.
Officials said the “severe” contamination was caused by cable theft at the Rooiwal waste treatment plant last week.
They have now shut down the plant until further notice.
But the marching residents maintained the problem went deeper than just cable theft.
“Over the past three days we’ve been getting water that makes us sick. The water literally had faeces and urine‚” MoAfrika wa Maila‚ one of the marchers‚ said.
“But water in Hammanskraal has been a problem for the past 21 years. People have been drinking water that turns their teeth brown‚” Maila added.
“People have always been admitted to hospital for cholera. The issue has never been addressed. We need a real solution.”
Tebogo Mthombeni‚ another resident‚ interjected: “These people (the municipality) must start taking us serious. We don’t want any violence‚ we just want healthy water.”
The marching residents carried placards that read “we want clean water‚ not sewage”. Their largest poster said “#DrinkingShitMustFall”.
Before it took over Tshwane’s reins from the ANC through a coalition with other parties‚ the DA warned in July that the Rooiwal plant was experiencing capacity problems.
This resulted in raw sewage sludge making its way into the Apies River. The river feeds the Temba Dam‚ which provides Hammanskraal with drinking water.
The party said a tender for upgrading the plant was 17 months late.
Darryl Moss‚ the council executive responsible for infrastructure in Tshwane‚ told Sowetan this tender has now been advertised. “The long term solution is to get Rooiwal plant to work right‚” he said.
He maintained that cable theft caused the recent spillage of sewage into drinking water. “It was absolutely cable theft‚” said Moss.
“That’s been the short-term crisis. Our main power cable to Rooiwal was cut and stolen last week‚ that caused the plant to come to a stop because it didn’t have power. That meant we couldn’t treat any sewage.”
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