Crowds of Tongaat residents were forced to use the public showers at Westbrook Beach after their taps ran dry for four days from last Thursday to Sunday, reports North Coast Courier.
Businesses in the busy CBD were brought to a halt over the long weekend and residents were outraged.
Frustrated from the lack of communication from Ethekwini Metro, some community members took to Ghandi’s Hill in protest on Sunday night, demanding that water be restored.
Though water returned to some Tongaat areas on Sunday night, many residents reported low pressure and undrinkable brown water throughout Monday.
The desperate protest action came shortly after DA PR councillor Yogiswarie Govender and DA Ward 58 councillor Geoff Pullan told residents at a community meeting at Tongaat Town Hall on Sunday afternoon that they could not explain the water cuts.
Tongaat councillor Dolly Munien, who is responsible for most of the affected wards, did not attend the meeting.
Many community members thought it was unfair that more affluent areas like Tongaat Beach, which includes Westbrook and Seatides, were not affected. Others were tired of having to travel to their relative’s homes to fill up their buckets and some reported that the two to three water tankers were not reaching all areas, often ran out of water, and could be spotted parked on the side of the roads – seemingly not in service.
“Where are the municipality’s operational managers? Where are the water engineers to come out and explain to residents what is going on?” asked an agitated resident.
“We expect the councillors to go on a serious fact-finding mission.”
Another resident urged councillor Pullan to realise that sincere compassion was expected from councillors, as citizens’ votes had put them into leadership in the first place.
Councillor Pullan responded by assuring residents that they were taking the matter seriously.
“When we call the relevant municipal officials, they don’t answer our calls either,” he said.
Pullan suggested the problem could have occurred as a result of maintenance issues at the plant, which included problems with chemical shortages for water treatment and filtration, and faulty pipelines. He acknowledged that the control centre was not as effective as it should be, and promised that they would continue trying to get answers.
Councillor Govender said seven water tankers had been sent to Tongaat as a short term measure, but they could not deliver water to the entire area, which is made up of about 40 suburbs.
When the North Coast Courier contacted the Ethekwini municipality, spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said he could only confirm that mud and silt had accumulated in the raw water supply, creating water treatment challenges.
He said high turbidity was a recurring problem, and they were hoping water would return to all Tongaat areas by Wednesday or Friday.
“A process is underway to upgrade the plant,” said Mayisela.
“UThongathi works is now functional and many areas at Tongaat are now getting water. We will ensure that those areas not receiving water as yet are also supplied by our water tankers until their water is restored.
“On Monday, we attended a community meeting and residents were advised that they will be informed of the latest developments as they occur. We apologise for the inconvenience and thank residents for their patience.”