The Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape has approached National Treasury for additional funding.

It has an infrastructure backlog and historical debt which is affecting water and sanitation services in the Fort Beaufort area. It owes the Amatola Water Board R136 million.

Ageing infrastructure, water leaks and illegal connections all contribute to water disruptions in Fort Beaufort. Water restrictions imposed by the Amatola Water Board, are also in place.

The board wants a payment plan from the municipality to deal with its current debt of R73 million.

Residents are taking strain. One of them says, “In some cases we are forced to draw water from the windmill and some of us get sick and develop rashes from drinking that water.”

“We struggle to get water; the municipal truck arrives once in a while. We can’t flush and use our toilets. We have to relieve ourselves in the bushes, and we fear being raped,” says another resident.

The Amathole district Municipality will receive a grant of R419 million for municipal infrastructure for this financial year. But it is insufficient to address all the water-related problems in the district.

Municipal Manager of Amathole district municipality Thandekile Mnyimba says, “We are engaging with national and province in terms of the historical debt and in terms of the current debt that is our responsibility. The current debt will be paid by the municipality and internally we are making sure that within the limited funds that we have we are in a position to pay the current debt in full.”

Residents have been urged to use water sparingly.