Water crisis in at least 26 Free State towns
At least 26 towns in the Free State currently have no water at all in certain areas, water supply disruptions, or extremely unhygienic water coming from their taps, a survey by DA public representatives has found.
Water problems in these towns are mainly being caused through water treatment plants and pipes that are dilapidated while some dams are completely dry.
The DA sent a formal demand to Corporate governance MEC Olly Mlamleli urging her to come up with a concrete action plan to solve this crisis with immediate effect.
In the DA's survey, local public representatives across the Free State were asked about the current water supply status in their towns. The towns identified as currently experiencing a water crisis are:
Jacobsdal, Fauresmith, Trompsburg, Bethulie, Smithfield, Zastron, Wepener, Dewetsdorp, Dealesville, Brandfort, Theunissen, Winburg, Soutpan, Tweespruit, Marquard, Clocolan, Steynsrus, Fouriesburg, Memel, Warden, Petrus Steyn, Lindley, Parys, Koppies, Vredefort and Oranjeville.
In Letsemeng, Mohokare, Dihlabeng, Phumelela and Ngwathe municipalities residents have no adequate water supply because of poor water management and lack of maintenance.
On the other side of the province in Naledi and Mantsopa, Metsimaholo, Setsoto and Nketoana and Masilonyane municipalities, challenges vary from undrinkable water to dams that are completely dry.
This is affecting these communities especially the poor in a sense that:
- Healthcare facilities are struggling to stay operational without water and this prevents health care practitioners from treating patients with fractures and stitching as they are also unable to wash and sterilise medical equipment. Infants with basic health problems are being turned away from local clinics in towns like Brandfort as the water crisis continues.
- Schools from marginalised communities have to discontinue their feeding schemes to the detriment of poor learners. Students and educators cannot use school toilets.
- Local businesses such as hotels and restaurants have also been adversely affected and they cannot run their businesses without water.
- The garden projects that have been initiated by the poor and unemployed have also been negatively affected as their plants have died which led to the failure of the project and a loss of income.
It is sad to see women and children being forced to travel long distances in order to draw water using wheelbarrows. This is unacceptable in a 19-year-old democratic country where water has been constitutionally declared to be a basic right.
This crisis has been on-going for many years. On 22 March 2012 myself and DA parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko visited Brandfort for a solidarity walk with the women of Majemasweu. We also requested the Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate human rights violations in the municipality considering that access to water is a fundamental right in the Constitution of South Africa.
But to date, the government has not yet shown any commitment in resolving the crisis.
If MEC Mlamleli cares about the people of this province, a plan to solve this crises immediately must be made public.
Statement issued by Patricia Kopane, DA Free State Leader, June 18 2013
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