NMB Steenhuisen

John Steenhuisen visited the Nelson Mandela Bay metro on Tuesday to assess their water crisis. Photo: John Steenhuisen

‘Uncaring’ government to blame for NMB water crisis – Steenhuisen

Steenhuisen said that the NMB water crisis, in which taps are running dry, is not the fault of drought or residents, but rather the ANC.

NMB Steenhuisen

John Steenhuisen visited the Nelson Mandela Bay metro on Tuesday to assess their water crisis. Photo: John Steenhuisen

With Nelson Mandela Bay’s water crisis growing exponentially more desperate by the day, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and interim leader John Steenhuisen have highlighted mismanagement and an “incompetent, uncaring government” for the metro’s water security problems. 

Steenhuisen visited Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) on Tuesday 6 October, and said that residents cannot be blamed for taps running dry, and demanded that the African National Congress (ANC) urgently come to their aid. 

NMB at ‘day zero’

The area gets its water from five dams – Kouga, Churchill, Impofu, Groendal and Loerie. The combined dam levels are below 19% of their capacity, according to the latest press release from the municipality. Last month, the municipality officially declared that they had reached “day zero”, with taps frequently running dry and water needing to be trucked in on a daily basis. 

Steenhuisen said that while the drought currently threatening water security is to blame, equally so should blame be placed at the door of the municipality and national government. 

“Taps have run dry in many areas, due to delays and failures to maintain and upgrade water infrastructure, and due to a failure to manage demand adequately,” he said. 

“For example, we have today inspected a leak near Despatch on the main water line between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, which has been an issue for the past eight months. This leak has been reported on numerous occasions, yet the municipality seems incapable of fixing it.”

He said that the local ANC-ledgovernment is incapable of addressing the water problem. “Instead, they are attempting to shift blame to residents themselves, to avoid accountability for their outright failures,” he said. 

Water consumption ‘unacceptably high’  

He charged that while NMB’s water consumption is high at 290 megalitres per day, the Metro loses 46% of its treated water to leaks and theft before it reaches residents. 

“This is unacceptably high,” he said. “DA-run Cape Town’s water loss rate hovers around 15-20%, in line with global norms. NMB’s excessive loss rate equates to over 100 megalitres of water being lost every single day. If even just half the leaks were fixed, the Metro would be well below the 250 megalitre target.”

“NMB Metro has no water crisis plan to alleviate the dire situation in which residents find themselves. And while the water crisis is growing, the Metro has also spent only R35 million of the R230 million received from national government for drought mitigation.”

Rapid response required in NMB 

He said that the metro needs a “rapid response” to address the infrastructural failures, and should do a better job of communicating with residents. 

“Since March this year the DA has been calling for water engineers to be seconded to the Metro by the Department of Water and Sanitation, but to no avail. Expired contracts in the Metro, such as the contracts for water treatment chemicals and the purchase, installation and maintenance of water meters, have only served to deepen the water crisis.”