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Water system sabotage


After an extensive period of an almost constant interrupted water flow to certain parts of the city, already irate residents might still not be prepared for the latest shocker: alleged sabotage of Polokwane’s life-giving water supply system.
From within the ranks of Polokwane’s City Council Polokwane Observer was alerted about allegations of suspected tampering with water provision by contractors, thus far an unsubstantiated claim that was reportedly recently brought to the attention of Polokwane Municipality. The source who raised the matter with Polokwane Observer indicated that the matter had to be further investigated.
The source expressed concern about the city’s water system failing its residents as he referred to a terrible situation continuing to take a turn for the worst. He stressed the fact that public representatives had to bear insults from community members at times of water shortages, but that it was something beyond their control. “The pressure due to the water shortage is so huge that even municipal water tankers can’t keep up with the need. They try to rotate them but some go without delivery on the agreed day.”
According to the source respite in the form of, among others, boreholes as additional assistance as part of a water provision back-up and augmentation plan were not bringing alternate relief. In addition the fact that Limpopo was typically not entering its rainy season as yet and the levels of some dam across the province were dropping didn’t help either, he reckoned. In a story published by Polokwane Observer last week, it was reported that Polokwane Municipality had 48 new boreholes drilled during the past few months, that existing equipment at 82 boreholes was being tested and removed and that 35 existing boreholes were re-equipped.
Text messages containing details about the most recent water levels across the city measured prior to the weekend and up to Tuesday morning depicted a dire scenario amid a prevailing heatwave. The one in Potgieter Street was at 0% last Thursday evening and Friday morning but had increased to 20% at around 10:00 on Tuesday. The levels of the reservoir supplying Seshego showed an incline from 7% last Thursday evening to 18% by the next morning and by Tuesday had dropped again to 10%.
The information about alleged sabotage was received on the first day of the city bracing itself for a pre-identified two-day shut-off from Olifantspoort plant as announced in a public notice sent out on Monday. Stakeholders were informed about the implementation of a shut-down of Olifantspoort plant, one of three providing the city with water, due to the connection of a new 400 m by-pass pipeline for which a contractor required two days to complete. “It is expected that after this new connection, the water supply to Polokwane will be improved as there will no longer be constant breakdown from the Olifantspoort plant,” read the last distributed notice issued on Monday. It followed an earlier text about an unrelated water crisis on Friday.
By now residents and ratepayers of the city have become used to regular updates on service interruptions and inconveniences caused. From repeated cries for help it is evident that the crisis arising from off-and-on water provision to Polokwane suburbs has become unbearable for affected users, who are getting increasingly impatient about an expensive service paid for in hard cash. In one of the last calls received from an upset ratepayer, it was learnt that users in Serala View, Flora and Fauna Park and Ster Park have to go without water two weeks at a time, necessitating the securing of alternative sources for household purposes and personal use.
Ultimately no excuse of a R11 billion master plan to deliver on water targets through the completion of upgrades of Olifantspoort and Ebenezer water schemes within another five to seven years can ease the discomfort of residents who are seeking immediate relief in an intolerable crisis, caused by a range of contributing factors that seemingly vary from external factors that reportedly include insufficient supply, pipe bursts and interference by communities.
The water crisis seemingly remains a worrisome factor to the entire community. At the time of going to print the African National Congress’s (ANC) Ike Maphoto branch and Bendor/Sterpark Residents’ Association announced an urgent community meeting at Masana Lodge for today (Thursday) at 18:00, when Polokwane Executive Mayor Thembi Nkadimeng is expected to respond to questions about the city’s current water challenges and electricity billing problems to be posed by concerned residents. The meeting is open to the wider community and not necessarily only for attendance by ANC members.
In response to a request for comment about the allegations of a system being tampered with, Polokwane Municipal Communications and Marketing Manager Matshidiso Mothapo said it should be brought to the attention of the municipality or any other relevant authority, backed by evidence for it to be investigated. “The reasons behind the current water challenges have been made public by both the municipality and Lepelle Northern Water.”