Carrying a 20ltr container up and down a hill is no task for an old woman. “Our backs hurt. We do not have wheelbarrows and have to carry these buckets on our heads. The trip over the hillock is difficult for some of us to make at this old age,” said an elderly Nomzamo resident, Zoliswa Mthandani.
Mthandani lives in Nomzamo where they have had no water for more than a month. Every morning, she said she now waits in a queue to draw from a tank recently installed by the municipality to service the area.
“I arrived at 7am. I am still here (at 1:30pm). They might come after supper because they often refill many other tanks. I am hungry but I cannot leave,” she said, while waiting for water trucks to come to refill the tank which is one of many in the area.
Before the tanks, Mthandani said used to get water in another area over a hillock. Water hardly runs out there but it is far and they need to purify it.
Thabeka Nqindi, who stood with Mthandani, in a queue of four women surrounded by more than 50 buckets, said the tanks did little to relieve their strain.
“We use the tanks now but all this is new. We use to make the trip over the hillock. We have taps but they are completely dry. The tanks are not helping because we wait here for long hours. At least if we had a tank per street it would make it better. At the moment we spend half the day standing here waiting the truck because we cannot live without water,” said Nqindi.
On Sunday, when the tank used by Mthandani and Nqindi was installed an argument broke out between residents on who could use the tank. “I arrived it was a standoff. The fight was about who had the right to use the tanks and where they came from. It happens often,” said Prince Whyte.
According to Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) Nomzamo is one of the high lying areas in Mlungisi and Ezibeleni affected when the main water storage point becomes very low; or when reservoirs run empty due to high water demand.
To battle the water outages CHDM has been installing water tanks in areas such as the Vans, Ezibeleni and Nomzamo. The tank Mthandani now relies on is the last of 27 tanks meant for Nomzamo.