After over 72 hours without water in some parts of Overport, due to multiple pipe bursts within close proximity to each other, residents are demanding that municipality make the necessary structural changes to ensure that these water outages are brought to an end.
The first pipe burst late Sunday evening on Peter Mokaba Road (Ridge Road) heading north and was followed by a second pipe burst, the same evening on Centre Street. This is the second incident at the same two locations in the last two months. On Monday afternoon, while repairs at the two locations were being done, a third pipe burst on Granger Place which further delayed the restoration of water supply.
By Tuesday morning, residents were still without water, and were informed that there were a further two pipe bursts on Hartley Road and a second pipe burst in Peter Mokaba Road, which was delaying the return of water supply to the area. Water supply was finally restored late Tuesday evening. The Weekly Gazette spoke to a resident from Centre Street who said,”It is Ramadaan now, and we woke up at 3am Monday morning to find no water. This is completely unacceptable and the fact that it is happening so often is very frustrating.
“How much longer must we continue to accept this? We know the infrastructure is old and needs to be changed, as this is the excuse we keep getting from municipality. The question I have is, why has this not been done yet? We pay our rates on time and yet we have to be treated like second class citizens of this country.”
Speaking to the local councillors, Ward 25 Councillor Hassan Haniff, said, “The burst pipes in Overport are being attended to by municipality but the municipal turn-around time is two to 24 hours, as prescribed by the customer services centre. The multiple pipe bursts did cause a delay but plumbers worked throughout to get water restored. These frequent bursts need to be addressed by municipality and a solution needs to be found. It has been a gruelling three days, as I needed to be at multiple sites to assist in speeding up the repair process, including escalating requests for tankers and ensuring the backfill was done as soon as repairs were made as usually the backfill takes four to five hours to arrange.”
“The continuous burst pipes in Overport and other areas of the city are caused by decaying infrastructure,” said Ward 31 Councillor Chris Pappas.
“Frequent water bursts, many of which are on the same roads, are causing distress and unnecessary suffering in Overport. Numerous requests have been made to the Head of Water and Sanitation to prioritise the maintenance and replacement of ageing infrastructure but these requests have all but been ignored. Three financial years have passed since councillors were elected and no budget allocation has been made to replace water infrastructure,” added Pappas.
Councillor Haniff and Pappas submitted a petition signed by residents of Ward 25 and Ward 31, calling on eThekwini Municipality to address issues on water and sanitation in their area.
Some of their requests include:
- Dedicate sufficient budget to replace ageing water infrastructure in the 2019/2020 financial year.
- Speed up the response time for despatching tankers when there are water outages.
- Speed up the turn-around time for delivering backfill to burst sites.
- Utilise local plumbers to repair bursts / leaks to ensure better quality of workmanship.
The petition was set up by the councillors in partnership with the community after growing frustrations with the high number of water outages caused by pipe bursts in the area. The petition was handed over to city officials at the Regional Budget hearings at the Botanical Gardens. A copy was also sent to the mayor’s office and the city manager’s office. Councillors have given the city 14 days to respond to the petition and will update the community accordingly.
EThekwini Municipality commented that municipal workers were sent on site to fix the pipes, and no further comment was forthcoming.