Komatipoort tourism under threat as taps run dry

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

The collapse of basic services in Mpumalanga has dire consequences throughout the province, and the small town of Komatipoort has not escaped this trend.

This town has been plagued by electricity cuts, water shortages and sewage spills for years, which has had a detrimental effect on the area’s economy. While the Nkomazi Local Municipality ignores the issue, the absence of services has escalated to such an extent that the town’s core business – tourism – is being severely affected.

Its proximity to the Lebombo border post and the Kruger National Park has made this town a much sought-after destination for both local and international tourists. However, once bustling guesthouses and lodges are struggling to fill their rooms and are suffering financially, as tourists numbers dwindle due to intermittent basic services such as water and electricity.

Water shortages are a particularly big problem, with residents and business owners claiming that days, sometimes weeks, go by without water. This is mainly due to the run-down water distribution infrastructure which is collapsing due to a lack of maintenance. Furthermore, due to the municipality’s failure to upgrade the infrastructure, the distribution system cannot keep up with the ever-increasing demand.

Frustrated residents claim the municipality refuses to upgrade and repair the water distribution system, even though residents have purchased the necessary equipment and materials on their personal capacity.

The DA fails to understand how the town can be in the throes of a water crisis, especially as it lies alongside two major rivers – the Nkomati and Crocodile rivers – both of which are prominent water sources in the Lowveld. It is incomprehensible why they are not being used more effectively to keep the town supplied with water.

Government needs to urgently intervene in the Komatipoort water crisis, and the DA will engage the Department of Water Affairs through our national counterparts in a bid to find a solution.

With the provincial unemployment rate and poverty escalating, our economy needs to be protected now more than ever, and given that tourism is one of the main economic contributors in the Lowveld, this sector in particular must be safeguarded.