Gauteng water supply on a knife edge

Fred Nel MPL

DA Shadow MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs

The week-long water outages in large parts of southern, eastern and western Gauteng during the past week was the result of poor contingency planning and maintenance, lack of technical competence and was exacerbated by disastrous communication.

It has furthermore shown Gauteng’s inability to respond properly to emergencies relating to water outages and its vulnerability as a province when suffering electricity outages.

Electricity supply to Rand Water’s major pumping station at Eikenhof, south of Johannesburg was interrupted causing many of the smaller reservoirs in municipalities fed by it, to run dry.

As a result water supply was sporadic and at times non-existent leaving millions of people without this precious resource.

It is highly concerning that one event could have such an immense knock-on effect on an entire province, and the DA believes that this is due to a number of factors:

  • Poor maintenance – numerous instances of pump failure, pipe failure, and reservoir facility have been reported, yet not sufficiently addressed;
  • A lack of backup response management – Rand Water ought to have backup arrangements in respect of power outages, which have now become common and will remain so over the next few years;
  • Lack of technical competence – the consequential failures experienced over the past eight days should have been foreseen and mitigated by competent engineering management.

Exacerbating the problem is the poor communication from Eskom, Rand Water and the municipalities, leaving residents and public representative of affected areas in the dark.

Communication was only forthcoming when the situation reached critical proportions.

The DA will submit questions to Cooperative Governance MEC, Jacob Mamabolo, and request a detailed contingency and recovery plan to prevent similar situations in the future.