• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

Amathole District still without water despite strike ending

“We are currently working tirelessly to fix all the damaged infrastructure and hope to have regular flows in no time,” promises Amathole District Municipality spokesperson, Nonceba Madikizela. The Municipality claims that a number of water related infrastructure was damaged by striking municipal workers over the past four weeks, during a 6.5% wage increase impasse.

This added to the pre-existing water shortages caused by inadequate infrastructure and wide-spreading drought in the district.

Last week, the Komga community took to the streets to voice their grievances over not having water for two months.

This follows shortly after the Butterworth community vandalised businesses and blockaded the N2 and stoned vehicles for the entire week.

Sixteen people, 10 men and six women have been arrested for malicious damage to property and public violence in Butterworth.

Komga residents have been given permission to extract water from boreholes, while the municipality is allegedly waiting for armed guards to restore pumping and treatment of water in various areas. Water supply has resumed in informal settlements with water tankers delivering water.

The University of Fort Hare’s Alice campus and the Walters Sisulu University Ibika campus closed down for the week until the water supply returned.

The Amathole District Municipality, the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) conditionally ended a month-long wage increase strike that has affected the water supply of the district on Tuesday.

The unions will receive a 6.5% wage increment, with the first payment due on August 25.

The workers had also demanded, the removal of the Municipal Manager, Thandekile Mnyimba as well as Corporate Services Director, Mziwodumo Dliwayo.

At this stage, it is unclear what the agreement was based on.

The strike led to a water crisis, with the Amahlathi, Great Kei, Mbhashe, Mnquma, Ngqushwa and Raymond Mhlaba municipalities going without water for two months.

The District was declared a drought area in July this year and was forced to resort to using boreholes and dispersed water using water trucks. They have approached National Treasury for funding to replace the old infrastructure and to pay off a historical debt of R136 million to the Amatola Water Board.

Amatola Water Board is facilitating the construction of two water reservoirs and a new pipeline in the Raymond Mhlaba Municipality which is estimated to be completed in December 2019.

Further options such as the use of Sandile Dam to extract water to Peddie will be explored to find the most effective way to improve water supply for the Ngqushwa Streams.


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