Water woes worsen as vandals sabotage supply

Joseph Chirume

While the water-scarce Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is grappling with measures to avert Day Zero, criminals are worsening the situation by vandalising the water infrastructure.

Criminals have been vandalising bulk water pipes, taking metal lids which they sell to scrap yards. This results in huge amounts of clean water getting wasted because of damaged infrastructure.

On Monday Scrolla.Africa saw a man breaking a fire extinguisher hose to fetch water for washing taxis at the Kariega taxi rank.

The municipality’s 2020/21 annual report reveals that the municipality loses 29% of its water to leaks, some caused by vandalism.

And all the time the situation is getting worse with dam levels running dangerously low. The total dam storage on 19 July was at 14.8% while the current usable dam storage was at 2.37%.

Resident Rosemary Nduna of Kariega said: “This is shocking. People know that we are facing Day Zero but they continue stealing water. How can one break a storage meant to keep water for emergency purposes?”

A resident of the Motherwell Nu 12 suburb said criminals always open the water tankers that transport water from the Nooitgedacht Water Works and remove copper and aluminium parts. Nooitgedacht Water Works gets its water from the Gariep Dam in the Free State.

“It’s a daily occurrence. Addo Rd is always flooded with clean water coming from the vandalised vehicles,” said a resident.

Spokesperson for the NMB Joint Operation Centre on Water Crisis, Luvuyo Bangazi said, “Vandalism is a criminal act and law enforcement will take its course. Residents are urged to use water sparingly and to help the City curb the scourge of vandalism,” he said.

Residents can call the vandalism hotline at 041 506 5500 to report criminal activity and acts of vandalism near municipal property.