Residents of Umlazi up in arms over ongoing water challenges

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Residents of Umlazi, south of Durban vented their frustrations over ongoing water supply challenges during the water imbizo held at the King Zwelithini Stadium.

Some claim they’ve been without running water for over seven years. The residents met with the Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu and eThekwini Municipal officials on government’s interventions to address the water crisis in the city.

Umlazi is one of the many areas in the eThekwini Metro that experiences persistent water supply cuts. Residents have not had running water for years. Their only option has been to install tankers and harvest rainwater as they say the municipal’s water trucks are not consistent.

Samukelisiwe Miya and her family have lived in Umlazi for over a decade. She says they began experiencing water cuts in 2014. Thereafter they were completely cut off. She says the municipality cites illegal connections and its aging infrastructure as the reasons for their water supply being cut off.

“We started experiencing water problems around 2014/2015 if I am not mistaken, we had water, but it was cut at night and it would come back in the morning. So, after that water was cut which meant that we did not have water at all. Life is very difficult because now the councilor will request the water tankers to come by and that we get water from the water tanker, we also rely on the rain.”

Other residents say it has become a consistent struggle without water.

“We are forced to share small amount of water as little as five litres, we use that water to bath and wash dishes sometimes we go up to three days without water,” a resident adds.

“We are living under difficult conditions as we have to stay alert waiting for water tankers. Sometimes water that is delivered is not enough for the community. As an elder in the area living alone, it’s difficult for to fetch water from the water tankers,” a resident explains.

The poor access to water in KwaZulu-Natal came under the spotlight in September, with the release of a damning report by the South African Human Rights Commission. The commission concluded that municipalities and water service authorities have violated the rights of residents to access clean drinking water.

“We accept and welcome the report and their recommendations. In January next year 18 and 19, we are calling all 184 water service authorities that include those in KZN, they will be in Johannesburg were will then comprehensively address this matter of water quality, not only in KZN, in Limpopo and all provinces including those visited by the Human Rights Commission,” says Mchunu.

Mchunu says they are working on implementing the recommendations of the commission.

Video: Water and Sanitation Minister Mchunu hosts water imbizo in Durban: Mike Muller