KZN south coast residents without water again as protesters demand jobs

Harding residents without water again due to protest.
Harding residents without water again due to protest.
Image: 123RF/Andriy Popov

The water supply on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast was held hostage on Wednesday by a group of protesters in the Harding community.

The protest comes a day after KwaZulu-Natal transport‚ community safety and liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda said that areas under the Ugu district municipality were identified as flashpoints for service delivery protests‚ usually emanating from water shortages.

On Wednesday protesters refused to allow workers into the water treatment plants until the municipality employed them as truck drivers and general workers.

In a statement issued on Wednesday‚ Ugu municipal spokesman France Zuma said the protest started last week when community members blocked the entrance to the municipal office.

"Countless meetings were convened by the leadership of the municipality with the protesters‚ where outrageous demands of employment of Harding residents for all the occupied positions of truck drivers and general workers were made."

"It became abundantly clear during the meetings that the protesters were determined to cause a complete shutdown of municipal services in the area‚" he said.

He said the disrupted municipal operations had resulted in water outages in most areas falling under the Umuziwabantu municipality.

"The municipality is currently contending with the challenges of water shortages in the areas of Umuziwabantu due to drought. Alternative supply has been made to ensure that communities are supplied with water while seeking to declare this a disaster area."

"The ongoing community protest has the potential of rendering these initiated measures to collapse‚ which will result in a complete shutdown of water supply in all areas under Umuziwabantu."

The Ugu municipality has been plagued by water woes as its pipeline has been repeatedly "held hostage" and sabotaged.

Last month‚ talk of a third force spread from Hibberdene to Harding when the water supply was sabotaged‚ leaving thousands with dry taps for more than ten days.

The region was declared a disaster area as hospitals‚ schools‚ clinics and homes had no access to water. Truck drivers carrying water to communities were intimidated and municipal JoJo tanks were stolen.

The municipality blamed striking workers for closing valves‚ draining the reservoir and physically destroying parts of the pipeline as it was the third time that the infrastructure had been sabotaged during a labour dispute.

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