Michele du Plessis
Residents of Mount Anderson and Simile, Sabie know all about coping without one of life’s necessities: water. The water supply to Mt. Anderson and Simile has been ‘irregular’ in the past, but the recent water crises had residents of Sabie infuriated.
Residents in Simile had no water for the last three weeks, and Mt. Anderson residents had no water for days on end. In the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) 2016/17, the bulk upgrade of water supply, the refurbishment of water reticulation systems, household reticulation/connection and maintenance of boreholes, are a top priority.
The pumps supplying water to the two affected areas were either vandalised or had a mechanical failure. Messages on the Sabie Service Delivery Whatsapp group on August 17: “We are currently experiencing a pump and motor failure at the railway booster pump house Ext 9. We ask that you use water sparingly until the situation is resolved. The pump and motor, including the Simile pump, will be sent for repairs in Nelspruit. We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you in advance for your patience.” Thabo Maake wrote.
The reason why the Simile pumps were vulnerable to be vandalized was that the security contractor, Phoenix Security, was dismissed. “When Phoenix guards were there, the pumps never broke or blew due to illegal connections and we all had water for long periods. Why were they given notice and who is the security guarding the pump now?” Valerie Kemp asked on the group. The inability to secure assets, such as water pumps, seems to be a huge problem for TCLM.
Captain Gwilym Rees, chairman of Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (SCCT) reported back after a technical meeting was held. “I am pleased to inform the public that SCCT/TCLM technical meetings have been resumed. At the last meeting, held on August 22, the Technical Director of TCLM, Eugene Malongane, informed the Chamber that the contractor is working on the water reticulation system for Mt. Anderson and is expected to install a header tank and two new upgraded pumps during September 2017.”
On the situation in Simile, Captain Rees reported back: “According to Malongane, the pumps are being attended to and the new security contractors will be appointed soon.” In the mean while, the inhabitants of Simile must either wait for the water truck to deliver water or get unsafe water from the river.
Phuleng Mapheto, Media Spokesperson of TCLM said: “As far as we are concerned, the only service interrupted in Sabie is water supply in Mt. Anderson and Simile as a result of burnt pump and vandalism of the Nkanini pump station respectively. With regard to Mt. Anderson and Simile, pumps were taken for refurbishment and are expected to be ready since they were paid for. As an interim solution, we are using water tankers to provide the community with water. We, as the municipality, humbly apologise for this unforeseen situation.”