Angry Esikhawini residents forced to buy water at supermarket

Xolile Nkosi & Sizwe Sibiya

The township of Esikhawini outside Richards Bay is surrounded by rivers and dams and is in a high rainfall area, but its residents still have to buy their water from supermarkets.

For two years their grievances have been bubbling under but on Wednesday burst to the surface when residents took to the streets to protest.

“It’s very hard to live here without water,” said one resident, Khulekani Ngcobo explained. “We have to chase the water trucks and if it happens that you miss the trucks you will have to buy more than three 5 litre water bottles.”

Khulekani added that it was not safe to drink the water from the trucks.

“We can’t drink that water. We always buy our drinking water for 5 rand, if we are refilling the bottle. And it costs more than R10 if you are buying without the bottle,” he said.

On Wednesday after protesting Khulekani said they were able to get water from the taps, but they woke up to find the taps dry again on Thursday – as has happened in the past.

“We have tried to resolve the water issue peacefully but all we got was empty promises,” said another resident Sandile Gamede during the protest.

“We are done sitting at tables talking to people who don’t care about us.”

Resident Ntombi Dlamini told Scrolla.Africa the water trucks don’t even supply half the village but “come when they feel like it” she said.

Umhlathuze Municipality spokesman Mduduzi Ncalane confirmed they are aware of the protest and the water issue.

“The supply of water to the communities and surrounding areas has been affected by the damage to the infrastructure. It is not that we are not attending to the problem.

“Solving the problem is a very a long process, because what happened is that houses are expanding every year and people end up building their houses on top of our water infrastructure – which makes it hard to repair when they get damaged,” said Ncalane adding that “until we reach an agreement with them (house owners) we are not able to fix the issue.”