Mayor Jordaan’s 600 water leaks in Despatch and Khayamnandi remain broken

By Athol Trollip, DA Mayoral Candidate: Nelson Mandela Bay:

Pictures of the Berg Street Reservoir leak and resultant erosion can be found here, here and here.

The Mayor’s promise to solve the Despatch and Khayamnandi water supply crisis has proved to be another broken promise, with more leaks and burst pipes than ever before.

At a council sitting on the 16th July 2015, the Mayor promised to prioritise this crisis by placing it on his hypothetical “dashboard”. But over four months down the line, hundreds of thousands of litres of water continue to flow from over 600 leaks in the area, because Mayor Jordaan has again broken his promises.

The collapsing Berg Street reservoir has been wasting over 900 litres of water every hour for over 5 years (3 942 000 litres in total), all of which tragically runs out the ball/release valve and into the ground. A man-made river now flows down the embankment, creating a swamp and causing massive erosion. This has begun to undermine national and municipal roads, causing potential risk of collapse.

The saddest and most unfortunate irony is that the nearby Uitenhage Despatch Development Initiative Eco Hub has failed due to lack of water provision. Yet hundreds of litres of water run through the ground and into storm water drains a mere 50 metres away.

The municipality, paralysed by poor leadership, is desperately lacking qualified plumbers to go out and fix the leaks. In an interview with the SABC, which the DA has seen, ANC Cllr Andile Mfunda claims that the municipality is going to employ 5 plumbers and 10 ambassadors in each and every ward, which has clearly not happened. Despite President Zuma’s expensive War On Leaks Port Elizabaeth jamboree on the 28th August 2015, costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of rand, it seems that nothing has changed.

A review of the existing plumbing team in Despatch, Uitenhage and Khayamnandi reveals that only 2 municipal plumbers are employed for the entire area, stretching over 4 or 5 wards. Worse still, there is no budget allocation for the recruitment of additional plumbers.

Not only has the ANC failed to create valuable and necessary jobs, but it has also failed to solve an ongoing crisis that deprives our residents of drinking water.

The DA has an outstanding track record of service delivery where we govern. The DA’s vision of a well-run Nelson Mandela Bay contains a plan to address water losses in our Metro.

The DA would immediately:

  • Redraw the municipal budget to vastly increase the infrastructure maintenance and upgrade budget – this year the ANC decided to cut the infrastructure maintenance budget by R123 million. The DA will prioritise infrastructure maintenance and cut wasteful and irregular expenditure by getting rid of corrupt officials.
  • We would establish an Anti-Leaks War Room within the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) to improve response time to reported leaks – properly fixing leaks is a start to the solution, but holistic upgrade of water infrastructure would still be our priority.
  • The DA would map out all existing water leaks and make the identification interactive and responsive, tied into the JOC.
  • Establish a dedicated leak repair team – To do this the DA would fill the multitude of vacant plumbing posts within the municipality, which are budgeted for but are negligently unfilled.

The DA can win next year’s local government election and we will ensure that this municipality rises up to world-class status, where better services are delivered and jobs are created.