The Olifantspoort water treatment plant is closed for the fourth time this year as a result of protest action by neighbouring community members and if operations are not resumed soon, residents of the city may expect water shortages as reservoir levels are currently below average.
According to Simon Mpamonyane, Communications Officer for Lepelle Northern Water (LNW), members of the Tswaing Lehlokwaneng community allegedly closed the road to the plant earlier this morning (Monday) and instructed the operating personnel to switch off the plant and leave the yard. “Personnel had no option but to vacate the plant. LNW opened a case at Lebowakgomo Police Station and the Police is preparing to travel to the plant to sort out issues,” Mpamonyane reported at 11:00 this morning (Monday).
According to Mpamonyane, the community previously met with LNW and has learnt that the protest was related to community issues regarding traditional leadership. “It is unfortunate that when communities are having issues, they resort to invade the Olifantspoort Scheme and force the employees to vacate the plant. Currently the ward councillor has been duly briefed and the headman has reported that he is taking up the issue with the chief,” Mpamonyane said but could not give an indication of when the plant will be in operation again.
When asked why it was still possible for community members to access the plant and disrupt operations, Mpamonyane said that LNW is doing everything in its powers to safeguard the plant and the personnel. “We have applied to have the plant declared as a national key point and are awaiting the announcement,” Mpamonyane said.
Provincial Police Spokesperson, Moatshe Ngoepe could not be reached for comment.
Earlier this morning (Monday), Communications and Marketing Manager of Polokwane Municipality, Matshidiso Mothapo confirmed that the levels of the city reservoirs were, with the exception of the Potgieter Avenue reservoir, below average. Mothapo appealed to consumers to use water sparingly to avoid shortages and low pressure.
Story: BARRY VILJOEN