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Protest Erupts in South Hills as Suburb Faces 53 Days of Water Shortage

Residents of South Hills, a suburb in Johannesburg, have been grappling with a severe water shortage for the past 53 days, leading to public outrage and protests in the area. This extended water outage has left the community frustrated and struggling to meet their basic water needs. Community Takes to the Streets in Protest In a display of frustration and desperation, South Hills residents took to the streets on Wednesday, demanding the restoration of their water supply. To make their voices heard, they resorted to blocking busy entrance roads, including Nephin, South Rand, Swinburne, and Golden Tea. Bricks and burning tires obstructed the thoroughfares, disrupting daily life for many Johannesburg residents. Seeking Answers from Local Authorities In response to the protest, Ward 57 Councillor Faeeza Chame (DA) addressed the crowd, acknowledging their plight and emphasizing that no one should endure a 53-day water shortage. Chame explained that the issue was linked to the non-operational Meyersdal reservoir, a problem that was only brought to their attention a few weeks ago. According to her, the water tower must be at least 30% full to supply the entire South Hills area. To provide more clarity, Chame called on Joburg Water South Dale depot manager, Mothosi Tholo, to explain the situation. However, Tholo's technical explanation about valves left the residents dissatisfied, and they insisted on a demonstration, accompanying him to the affected site. The Struggles of South Hills Residents Residents like Thobeka Gqokole expressed their frustrations, explaining that they hadn't had water for three months. This predicament, especially for those raising families, has been immensely challenging. In Ms. Gqokole's case, she supports a family of six as a City cleaner. Another resident, Sonto Mbatha, highlighted the difficulties in her daily life, emphasizing how much easier things were back on the farm in Balfour, Mpumalanga, where she had access to a water tank. Carrying buckets of water daily has taken a toll on her physical well-being. It's worth noting that South Hills is not the only Johannesburg suburb grappling with prolonged water outages. Residents of Brixton have reported six weeks without tap water, and others have endured similar shortages for two months. The Causes of the Water Shortage Nombuso Shabalala, spokesperson for Johannesburg Water, cited various reasons for the water interruptions in the city. These issues include inconsistent supply from the bulk supplier, Rand Water, and high demand, particularly during hot weather. To address these challenges, Johannesburg Water has implemented a strategy to reduce water supply during off-peak hours and has deployed a fleet of water trucks and tanks to affected areas. Moreover, Rand Water has announced "water shifting" as a means to mitigate water outages by redistributing available water resources more equitably. City Authorities Silent on the Matter City Spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase did not respond to queries regarding the ongoing water crisis, leaving many residents in the dark about the city's plans and efforts to resolve this pressing issue. As the community's outcry continues to grow, South Hills residents are holding onto hope that their water supply will be restored soon, alleviating their prolonged hardships and uncertainties.

Residents of South Hills, a suburb in Johannesburg, have been grappling with a severe water shortage for the past 53 days, leading to public outrage and protests in the area. This extended water outage has left the community frustrated and struggling to meet their basic water needs.

Community Takes to the Streets in Protest

In a display of frustration and desperation, South Hills residents took to the streets on Wednesday, demanding the restoration of their water supply. To make their voices heard, they resorted to blocking busy entrance roads, including Nephin, South Rand, Swinburne, and Golden Tea. Bricks and burning tires obstructed the thoroughfares, disrupting daily life for many Johannesburg residents.

Read also: NSFAS Grapples with Payment Issues Ahead of 2024 Academic Year

Seeking Answers from Local Authorities

In response to the protest, Ward 57 Councillor Faeeza Chame (DA) addressed the crowd, acknowledging their plight and emphasizing that no one should endure a 53-day water shortage. Chame explained that the issue was linked to the non-operational Meyersdal reservoir, a problem that was only brought to their attention a few weeks ago. According to her, the water tower must be at least 30% full to supply the entire South Hills area.

To provide more clarity, Chame called on Joburg Water South Dale depot manager, Mothosi Tholo, to explain the situation. However, Tholo’s technical explanation about valves left the residents dissatisfied, and they insisted on a demonstration, accompanying him to the affected site.

The Struggles of South Hills Residents

Residents like Thobeka Gqokole expressed their frustrations, explaining that they hadn’t had water for three months. This predicament, especially for those raising families, has been immensely challenging. In Ms. Gqokole’s case, she supports a family of six as a City cleaner.

Another resident, Sonto Mbatha, highlighted the difficulties in her daily life, emphasizing how much easier things were back on the farm in Balfour, Mpumalanga, where she had access to a water tank. Carrying buckets of water daily has taken a toll on her physical well-being.

It’s worth noting that South Hills is not the only Johannesburg suburb grappling with prolonged water outages. Residents of Brixton have reported six weeks without tap water, and others have endured similar shortages for two months.

The Causes of the Water Shortage

Nombuso Shabalala, spokesperson for Johannesburg Water, cited various reasons for the water interruptions in the city. These issues include inconsistent supply from the bulk supplier, Rand Water, and high demand, particularly during hot weather. To address these challenges, Johannesburg Water has implemented a strategy to reduce water supply during off-peak hours and has deployed a fleet of water trucks and tanks to affected areas.

Moreover, Rand Water has announced “water shifting” as a means to mitigate water outages by redistributing available water resources more equitably.

City Authorities Silent on the Matter

City Spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase did not respond to queries regarding the ongoing water crisis, leaving many residents in the dark about the city’s plans and efforts to resolve this pressing issue.

As the community’s outcry continues to grow, South Hills residents are holding onto hope that their water supply will be restored soon, alleviating their prolonged hardships and uncertainties.

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