Makhanda residents have long become used to a “one day on, one day off” routine when it comes to water supply. But in recent weeks, residents have at times gone for days at a time without water and frustrated residents demanded answers.
Infrastructure Director Asanda Gidana presented a detailed account of all the water problems that have affected Makhanda in the past two months at a City Hall meeting on Friday 11 November. She explained what caused each incident and described how her team went about repairing the leaks.
Gidana was frank in specifying the successful, and not so successful attempts. However, all the information she shared with the gathering of about 50 people had already been distributed on several WhatsApp groups. Most of the details were also included in printed hand-outs passed around at the meeting.
Makana Council Speaker, Mthuthuzeli Matyumza, had called the emergency meeting of Councillors and Ward Committee members to address the continuing water crisis in the area. Most of municipality’s 14 wards had at least one representative at the meeting.
Matyumza chaired the meeting while Gidana was the main speaker. Makana Water Services Manager, Gubevu Maduna and Technical and Infrastructure Services Portfolio Chair, Gcobisa Mene were present to help with any technical points.
Members of Wards 4 and 8 had met at the same venue on the previous evening for what they expected was a meeting with the Makana Municipality leadership. They were disappointed because only the DA Councillors for the two wards showed up.
Matyumza explained that he couldn’t have attended the Thursday evening meeting because he had only received a WhatsApp invitation at short notice.
Gidana made a concerted effort to show that her department was doing its best to keep the water flowing, but she was not able to convince residents that she had a long term plan to resolve the crisis.
Residents at both meetings made it clear that they were extremely frustrated with the erratic water supply in Makhanda. Officials and residents agreed that the crisis had reached breaking point but there was no consensus about how to resolve the emergency.
A small group of people demonstrated outside City Hall with placards affirming that ‘Water is a right’ and that the municipality should ‘Dissolve Corruption Now’.