eThekwini/ UMngeni-uThukela water woes, result in unprecedented outages

Issued by Councillor Yogiswarie Govender – DA eThekwini EXCO Member
08 Feb 2024 in Press Statements

The DA in eThekwini wrote to the Head of Water and Sanitation(EWS) , Ednick Msweli and the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mañana, requesting an urgent joint meeting to discuss the current water crisis affecting the northern areas in the municipality.

The crisis appears to be affecting more areas than just the North, spreading to the South and Western regions, wherein supply from the UMngeni-UThukela run Durban Heights Reservoir has been reduced over the last three months. The ripple effect of this reduced supply has caused catastrophic repercussions in the affected communities, where the business and hospitality industry is floundering and some face closure.

Schools and learning institutions are disrupted weekly and this compromises the right to education.

The DA met with both the EWS and UMngeni-uThukela but has never had a joint meeting despite numerous requests. It must be noted that the DA also requested a comprehensive report on two major issues regarding the deployment of tankers and the challenges of non-water eminating from UMngeni-uThukela, at the first Executive Committee (EXCO) meeting for this year, in January 2024.

It is regrettable that UMngeni-uThukela did not attend the subsequent eThekwini Municipality Executive Committee to report, neither did they attend the full council sitting on 31 January 2024, as expected, to unpack the water crisis.

eThekwini Municipality has been failing in its mandate for years to balance supply and demand of water. This is exacerbated by various other internal failures, including the non-working SCADA, Supply Chain Management (SCM)d elays, lack of consequence management, sabotage, vandalism, poor planning, lack of preventative maintenance and ageing infrastructure.

Load-shedding has equally contributed to the water woes as reservoirs and treatment works do not produce or pump water during this time.

In recent days, officials have become extremely unresponsive, relying only on the once a day Public service announcement memo sent out. The memo merely reflects the status of repairs but neither EWS nor UMngeni-uThukela have been sending regular updates to each ward explaining why there is not enough water beyond the usual bursts, leaks and power outages.

The lack of transparency and poor frequency of communications has unfortunately seen the community vent their anger and issue threats against councillors and civil society organizations who have been trying to get critical information unsuccessfully.

As a result, as the DA, is now demanding that both eThekwini water and sanitation and UMngeni-uThukela meet us jointly at one sitting to avoid the blame game. We believe that a joint sitting will assist in getting tangible answers to the lack of supply from UMngeni-uThukela and the water losses incurred by eThekwini in the management of the reticulation.

We have given both entities until close of business today to respond to this urgent request.

The DA further reiterates our call for the City Manager, Musa Mbhele and EWS Head, Ednick Msweli to be fired as they have failed to address the water crisis.