Michele du Plessis
In her presentation at the Mayoral Imbizo in Simile, Sabie, on January 18th, Selina Mashigo-Sekgobela said: “The municipality is currently implementing MIG (Municipal Infrastructure Grant) project to refurbish the water network infrastructure and this at time disturb the provision of water.” Really, at time? Is 13 days without water at time?
Mashigo-Sekgobela said in the next point on Water and Sanitation that “those who are tempering (sic) with the municipality water network infrastructure are urged to stop this practice because it damages the valves of the network resulting to some areas in the community not having water. “illegal water connection” (sic) is a crime and people should report such acts.”
With statements such as the above by Mashigo-Sekgobela, posts as the following by an angry Sabie resident, stating – “The inefficiency of the municipality is deplorable. According to our wonderful Constitution, we have a RIGHT to water and this neglect by officials to supply water as a basic need should also be taken to court, add their names to the case to be heard on 15th March. And they should be fired for not doing their work!” – is completely understandable.
We understand that the SCCT wrote to TCLM recently, stating that “Simile Township has been without water on a frequent, regular and long term basis during the past several months, leading to hardship and deprivation in the community. When the new reticulation system and pump station were installed, the community expected that their days without water were over. Notwithstanding that, the system has failed yet again, this time apparently due to the new reticulation pipeline not being able to withstand the rigours of its position in the ground. This, in turn, appears to be due to two factors:
1. The pipes have been laid in trenches with no base support preparation (this is against good practice and will eventually lead to failure of the pipe(s)). This is even more important in areas (such as the subject area) where there is a large amount of groundwater and general instability of the ground.
2. The pipe material is PVC whereas, in such an area, HDPE or LDPE pipe which has a higher degree of flexibility should have been used.
It is further understood that the original specification for the pipeline was, in fact, HDPE / LDPE (due to being more flexible in its application under such circumstances) but this was changed because PVC is cheaper. This fact has not been tested. However, this begs the question of who changed the specification, what qualified that party to do so and whether the party has been held accountable because this decision has far-reaching consequences.
We have, together with Africa Ngomane (Manager, Water & Sanitation, TCLM) and Thabo Maake (Supt. Water & Sanitation, Sabie Unit) and Mr Richard Salt (our Engineer) spent some days investigating the failure of the Simile pipeline and in that regard, we refer you to the report from Mr Salt, explaining the matter in technical detail, and summarising the possible short, immediate and longer-term suggested remedial actions compiled together with Thabo Maake. This may even require the laying of a new pipeline using the correct specification of material and base design.” And that is exactly what is happening now in Simile. Vely (TCLM employee) confirmed this fact when he spoke to Valerie Kemp, editor, GPS News on February 21st.
“The issue of water in Sabie is actually causing the municipality sleepless nights. We appointed the service provider to ensure that we deal with it permanently. Our people deserve better.
From the information, we gathered from the contractor the project is 95% complete. As the municipality, we provide the community with water using water tanker, we, however, acknowledge that the provision is not sufficient as a result we appeal to the community of Sabie to be patient while we are resolving this issue.
The issue of mayoral Imbizo residents of ward 7 complaining it was addressed during the meeting. The Executive Mayor is having a mayoral Imbizo on Sunday the 24th of February 2018 to deal with issues of Harmony Hill,” said Puleng Mapheto, Communications manager, TCLM.