Access to water a basic right, but some communities in Brits still lack it

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Whilst water is a basic right, the promise of access to this commodity as enshrined in the Constitution still rings hollow for many in the country. Some communities in the Madibeng local municipality in the North West province still complain of little or no drinkable water.

But the Water and Sanitation department says the Brits water treatment works are being upgraded to assist the municipality to meet the increasing water demand. Officials say the more than R150 million project is now nearing completion.

The water crisis has been one of the hot campaign tickets in the municipality. Sabotage, cronyism and self-enrichment were reportedly some of the dirty dealings behind Madibeng’s water woes which ultimately claimed four lives in the Mothutlung area.

After the community protested the lack of access to drinkable water, now almost a decade later, Funky Mahlangu, one of the residents who was shot and injured at the time says nothing has changed. And he’s not alone.

“The situation is still the same as nine years ago and it’s worse when we have sick people, we can’t bath them,” a community member explains.

“There are minimal changes even as I speak with you there’s no water, I only used the little I had,” another community member elaborates.

The municipality has been losing R4.9 million monthly to contracted service providers for water and refuse removal.

The institution’s current administration claims the tide has turned while continuing to fail to meet its constitutional obligations of providing water to its people. It has now purchased its own fleet.

“They’ve been living on this thing for quite some time but unfortunately, we must face reality and the municipality must enter the space. according to regulations we’re a Category B municipality and at this level, we should not be in a situation where we do not have vehicles of such a nature ourselves and they must be in the best use of our people,” says Madibeng Mayor Douglas Maimane.

Water capacity has now been enlarged, with the Brits water treatment works upgrading project now nearing completion at a cost of R155 million.

“The current upgrade is an additional 20mg per day from 60 to 80mg per day. The 60 is existing which is operated and maintained by Madibeng local municipality and they’re on 90% completion,” says North West Water & sanitation department’s John Ratombo.

Ratombo says water quality issues remain the competence of water services authorities and assessment is done through its blue drop certification programme. But for people like Mahlangu, there’s no hope remaining

“The solution is to devise other means to get water like installing Jojo tanks, just like Eskom where people are getting off the grid,” Mahlangu explains.

However, Magalies Water says the project will be completed by the end of June this year which hopefully will end the long-standing miseries for the municipality’s residents.