Water, politics, mindsets

Readers of last week’s Talk of the Town will have noticed that Ndlambe Municipality placed several large advertisements in the newspaper that serve as a promotion of its work, rather than the usual notices about tenders, jobs and town planning.

We appreciate the advertising revenue of course, but readers will realise this is timed to be just before the local government election on November 1.

The adverts are the municipality’s way of saying what good work they have done without being interrogated about it. Read them for yourself and make up your mind.

One of the adverts describes the timeline of the seawater reverse osmosis plant (SWRO) project, but readers who are aware of the history of this project will know a big chunk of context is lacking, like no mention being made of the first tender and contract that was overturned by the high court, and the problems which have beset the RO plant.

Not intentionally timed for this edition – unless the EFF knew these adverts were going to be placed – it is ironic that the RO plant issue has been taken up by the party, not for the first time, but also just before the elections.

Some good news in the adverts is the municipality’s project to address water loss though leaks and faulty meters – something which has been raised by the auditor general in consecutive audit reports.

This project is long overdue. It is a travesty to think that some of the little bit of RO water we have been receiving – much better quality than the municipal water we used to get – is being lost to leaks in the reticulation system.

The project has focused on inadequate plumbing installations in various indigent residential areas and townships.

Unfortunately many people turn a blind eye when they see leaks, especially if it doesn’t affect them personally and they are not paying for the water which is being wasted.

Several years ago, before he left the municipality’s employ, one of the officials in the infrastructure department told me about the team of plumbers-on-foot who were appointed to address the problem of water leaks in indigent areas at that time.

He said they came to one house which metered 100kl had been used in a month, only to find there was a continually running toilet which the RDP homeowner had never bothered to fix or even report to the municipality.

It’s mindsets like this that need to be challenged through a vigorous programme to inform and educate the community about the urgent need to save water, a rapidly diminishing resource.

– Jon Houzet


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