Dire water situation in Port Alfred as taps run dry

Thabisa Ngezi’s faucet at her residence in Nemato township, Port Alfred, has run dry.

PHOTO: Joseph Chirume, GroundUp

  • Taps have run dry in Port Alfred and surrounding areas.
  • The municipality says drought has dried up the same old sources of water.
  • Ndlambe Municipality says a reverse osmosis plant supplying 5 million litres a day will begin working on the finish of March.

Thabisa Ngezi, who lives in Nemato township, says the water situation in Port Alfred is worsening by the day.

“There are times when water tankers arrive late. They often bring insufficient water. Tankers quickly empty, because there are many people depending on them,” Ngezi advised GroundUp.

“We don’t have money to buy water from shops. There is always chaos as people scramble to get water. There is no social distancing and people don’t care about contracting Covid-19 in those queues. What they want is water for their families.”

The dire water situation in Ndlambe Municipality, Eastern Cape, has hit Port Alfred, Kenton-on-Sea, Alexandria, Bathurst, Boknes, Cannon Rocks, Boesmansriviermond, and surrounding farms.

The native economic system is dominated by farming and tourism, each closely affected.

The municipality blames the disaster on the drought.

Municipal supervisor Rolly Dumezweni says:

The drought situation has come a good distance since 2018… This drought has precipitated dam ranges to drop drastically particularly when rainfall will not be accessible.

“The Port Alfred community is serviced with bulk water from the Sarel Hayward dam, the East Bank dune wellfields, and the Central belt boreholes. These water sources are designed to traditionally produce a combined yield of 6.6 million litres per day, yet the current water demand is 8.2 million litres per day.

“The reverse osmosis plant is at present below [sic] the development stage and can yield 5 million litres per day when in operation.”

In a recent pamphlet, the municipality said the plant was expected to produce water towards the end of March.

Water tanks have been placed at strategic places in Port Alfred town and townships and water tankers are hired to fill those tanks. They fill up at Boknes and Cannon Rocks, which is why they arrive late at the townships.

Dumezweni said a pipeline is also underway to take water from boreholes to Mansfield pump station to pump it to the Bathurst Water Treatment Works and Port Alfred.

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