Residents in Giyani, Limpopo, say as the country observes Freedom Day, they have little to celebrate due to dire water shortage. R3.2 billion has thus far been spent on a bulk water project aimed at drawing water from Nandoni Dam outside Thohoyandou to Nsami Dam in Giyani to relieve the situation.
Though water has started flowing into Nsami from Nandoni, most residents still don’t have water due to Nsami’s limited capacity to treat more water and a lack of infrastructure to distribute it to the communities.
Robert Ngobeni says his family of five uses riverbanks water to bath and wash. His daily routine is to fetch water for his household and then buy water at R5 per 20 litre tub for consumption.
“This is not what freedom should look like, we are forced to come here daily. I can only afford to buy three tubs a day at R5 each and we use that water for cooking and drinking then use water from here for washing and bathing,” says resident Robert Ngobeni.
Velly Mabunda says he incurs most of his running costs in travelling to purchase his produce. The fresh produce hawker says this was not the case three years ago when there was a local vegetable scheme operational in the village. He says the scheme has collapsed due to a lack of a reliable source of water.
“You find that you must go far to stock because of the lack of water. There was a place in the village where we used to stock, but it has now closed down. We now have to go to Letsetela and Louis Trichardt for us to sell,” laments Mabunda.
It has become common to sight groups of women doing their laundry at riverbanks in many parts of Giyani. Most of the women say even though it is a health hazard, they have no other choice.
“We come here to do our laundry because we have not had running water in three years, this year our taps had water on the day of the EFF’s nation shutdown only,” says resident Thembi Baloyi.
“If you don’t have money, you won’t have water, bakkies charge a lot of money which I don’t have and I’m forced to walk long distances with a wheelbarrow to get water,” says another Giyani resident Xiluva Sambo.
Authorities expect the first 24 of the 55 villages to be operational by the end of the year.
“Once we are done you then have the next phase of 31 villages which then constitute 55. Early January 2024, we should be beginning SCM processes so that we can complete the work,” says Mopani district executive mayor Pule Shayi.
It remains to be seen how much more it will cost the taxpayer to complete the last two phases of this multi-billion-rand project.