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Cape Town – The Kannaland Municipality estimates it will have to pay R50 million to fix crumbling water infrastructure which has left residents of Calitzdorp high and dry, due to ongoing water disruptions over the past week.
Municipal officials entered into urgent discussions with the Department of Water Affairs this week to get much-needed funding for the town’s pipeline replacement project.
Residents of St Helena, Queens Street and Bloekom Avenue, have been the hardest hit over the past 10 days with concerned locals turning to the Western Cape Local Government Department after water disruptions in their towns persisted despite ongoing complaints.
Calitzdorp businessman Jako Voges, who lives in Queens Street, said he watched in disbelief while newly replaced pipes, outside his home, burst once again.
“It looked like the pavement was lifting up into the air, due to the force of the water.
“I was standing right next to it when it happened.
“It was like a disaster movie,” he explained.
Voges said it was the fourth burst pipe in front of his house in the past week and possibly the “Our water is back on, but the municipality is leaping from one crisis to another.
“They only started doing something after we approached the provincial government for help.”
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said when a water problem occurs in Queens Street it effectively means the entire town is affected.
“It is clear that staff at the municipality do not have the necessary skills to address this on going problem.
“They spend 80 percent of their budget on staff salaries but none of the staff have the ability to deal with the problem,” she added.
But Kannaland’s municipal manager, Morne Hoogbaard, rubbished the claim, saying it was “utter nonsense”.
Apologising for the “extreme discomfort” caused by the water problems, Hoogbaard added that Calitzdorp had experienced regular water breaks over the past month but the situation has deteriorated since Tuesday.
Hoogbaard said they will meet with residents today in the Calitzdorp town hall to outline efforts to address the current challenges.
MEC of Local Government Anton Bredell’s office said they’ve already sent engineers to the affected areas to carry out an assessment.
“It has been decided that the existing main water pipe which is very old, must be replaced.
“Over the past few weeks there have been more than 20 breaks in the pipe, leading to water challenges and leaks,” the MEC’s spokesman James-Brent Styan said, outlining some of the plans.