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Grahamstown residents want national government to resolve water shortages and unsafe drinking water

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Residents call for the government to intervene, as the town has less than two months of water supply left.

The residents of Makhanda, formerly known as Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape are living in fear as the city faces a water shortage. The city mainly sources its water from a dam to the west of its city, which has been reported to have gone down to less than 30 percent.

Residents have called on national intervention, as the water is also reportedly unsafe to consume. Tests conducted in May 2018 discovered e-coli in the water.

Members of the community have been sick as a result of the water consumption. One resident’s daughter fell ill and developed a skin condition due to the intake of the contaminated water. The mother expressed that her child fell violently ill, and when she took her to the doctor, she was told that the child had developed eczema because of the dirty water. The child could not go to school for a month, under doctor’s orders.

The Makana Municipality, which includes the city of Grahamstown or Makhanda, assured residents that the water is safe, but they need to boil it first. The director of the municipality added: “you can bring me a big cup of water from anywhere in Grahamstown, and I would drink it because I know that water is safe. We test that water in our plants before it goes out to the public. That water is safe.” he says.

Nomonde Tshede, a resident from Joza Township, expressed that she cannot afford to boil water every day for consumption: “I feel bad because I do not have electricity. I don’t have money; I’m not working, I only receive grant money for one child but I use it for her school things,” she says.

The spokesperson from the national Department of Water and Sanitation, Sputnik Ratau, says ageing infrastructure and lack of funds remains a challenge, and further explained that “a lot of municipalities suffer from almost the same issues of lack of maintenance, lack of capacity, lack of funding so that they can be able to do some of the work that they do. The issue of ageing infrastructure, you might find that some of the systems are operating at levels of over capacity from what they were planned for.”

Abenathi Gqomo
[email protected]

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