Ward 25 councillor, Hassan Haniff said that community interference added about eight hours onto the repair time when a water pipe burst along Brickfield Road in the early morning hours on Saturday, 17 November. With over 20 pipe bursts in his ward this year, Cllr Haniff said that the problem was escalating and another burst was reported at 6am on Wednesday, 21 November along Clayton Road.

“It’s a very urgent matter as residents need access to water every day and the minimum repair time is between eight and 20 hours, which is a long time to go without water,” said Cllr Haniff.

Cllr Haniff said that plumbers were on the site and working to fix Saturday’s burst at 6am when he visited the site. “The problem was that the water from underground surfaced about 10 metres away from the problem area, so plumbers were digging for a long time to find the fault. Residents complained that there was too much noise so the plumber got intimidated and shut off the machine at 10pm.

This caused another eight hours of delay in getting the water back on. I told the plumbers to continue the work and said that if anyone had a complaint to address it to me because it is very unfair to leave some people without water just because of noise. There were residents complaining about noise but yet we had people without water, so residents should be more considerate about matters of service delivery in the area. There should be no window period when there is a water complaint,” said Haniff.

According to Cllr Haniff, the frequent pipe bursts are caused by ailing infrastructure, an escalating problem that is not being addressed by quick fixes. “Due to the infrastructure that is 70-years-old there are areas where we are taking out asbestos and cast iron pipes. If there is a burst in the area a four-five meter section of pipe is replaced, but the whole system isn’t being replace. It’s not sustainable because they are placing PVC onto old iron pipes and it is a matter of urgency that the whole system be replaced,” he said.

Cllr Haniff added that repairs also affect traffic as the road is dug up and asphalt has to be repaired each time, which is not cost effective.

EThekwini Spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela, said that the city had noted the frequent reports and the Water and Sanitation Department was investigating the causes and solutions although no timeline for action was given.

“The Technical Department is also working on the interventions which include, but are not limited to, opening new projects for relays where possible and improving on the pressure reducing valves systems. We cannot give an indication as to when the project would commence or be completed as this is subject to the City’s Supply Chain Management processes,” said Mayisela.