Eastern Cape residents call for the completion of a water take that should have been finished in 2019

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Residents from over 10 villages at Centane in the Eastern Cape who are experiencing water shortages have called for the long-over completion of a water tank. The tank should have been finished in 2019.

The residents say the delays have exacerbated water shortages in their area. They say over R50-million has already been spent on the tank, while the majority of them still depend on water from dams and streams.

It’s been months since the construction of the water tank was halted. Residents are accusing government of dragging its feet in dealing with their water challenges.

“We have a problem with this tank constructed near our homes. We were never consulted about it, that doesn’t sit well with us and we hear the water from this tank will be for other villages and not ours, that really does not sit well with us,” says a resident.

“After so long the tank is still incomplete from 2018. That is a very long time because people here are suffering, they are still without water,” says another resident.

Water from unsafe sources

Some NGOs and organisations have taken the government to court over water shortages in Centane. Spokesperson for the Masifundise Trust, Boyisile Mafilika, says they only get water from unsafe sources.

“If you go to Centane, you will find that people there are hiring tractors, and trucks in order for them to have water and they are drinking water with animals. They are drinking where you will find that there are nappies all over and there are dead animals but because there are no other means, they are forced to drink unhealthy water from the streams and the rivers. Hence we are saying come 19th of January 2022 the Mthatha High Court must make a final decision where and enforce government that there is water as a means of urgency.”

The Amathole District Municipality’s spokesperson, Nonceba Madikizela-Vuso, says the project has been put on hold due to some communities who want to be included in its first phase.

“It is important to note that the project is 90% complete and if access was to be granted for the installation of pumps, this project would certainly be completed by June 2022. Admin wanted to install tankers as an interim measure so that pumping can take place from the borehole to those tankers whilst we complete phase 1. But due to the access that has been denied by the community to access the borehole, this now has become impossible.”

Residents also want a probe into the amount spent on the project, as well as the suitability of the construction company involved.