Drought relief funds not enough

Chris Hani District Municipality mayor, Wongama Gela, said the amount committed by minister Lindiwe Sisulu was a drop in the ocean compared with what was needed by the region for drought relief.

The human settlements, water and sanitation minister was in the province on Monday to hold an Exco meeting with premier Oscar Mabuyane about interim measures to assist the province which is in the grip of a debilitating drought.

Gela, who attended with mayors from other regions in the province, said Chris Hani alone would need R178 million to alleviate the deteriorating situation.

The minister is very concerned about the drought, not just across the Eastern Cape, but throughout the country. She committed some funding for the province, but it will not even come close to the amount we need.

The minister did, however, confirm that treasury had approved emergency procurement processes to assist in availing the funds speedily.”

He emphasised that water rationing would continue for the region as dam levels continued to fall.

One of the hardest-hit areas is that of Sakhisizwe municipality, but a dam dried up in the Molteno area recently.”

As of December 2019 the Waterdown Dam was at 14.9% of capacity. Komani had some reprieve from the imminent danger of Day Zero when the Xonxa Dam was finally connected to the town. Whittlesea still depends on Waterdown.

However, some areas still experience water outages from time to time. Municipal spokesmen ascribed this to blockages and rationing.

Sterkstroom, which was connected to Carnavon Estates, is now out of water. The municipality is carting water to the town and dependent areas.

According to Gela the municipality had bought eight additional trucks to provide water for Komani and surrounding areas.

He also said they had been channeling funds towards maintenance of water treatment plants because a number of them were old and not functioning at optimal capacity.

Gela cautioned that water wastage was a concern for the municipality and if rainfall did not improve other measures would be explored to curb usage.

We have been using different platforms to try to inform and plead with people to use water sparingly. So far we have been rationing water, but if the situation persists, the council might have to make a decision to impose penalties when people exceed certain usage.”

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