Zeerust water crisis due to ANC failure to maintain infrastructure

Issued by Cornel Dreyer – DA Councillor: Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality
16 Sep 2022 in Press Statements

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Cllr Cornel Dreyer.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality has conducted an oversight inspection into the Zeerust constant water shortages and lengthy recovery time following interruptions such as load shedding and infrastructure damage, which left residents without water for up to eleven days.

Drinking water in Zeerust is extracted from six large boreholes at Rietpoort and pumped to Zeerust via a 27-kilometer pipeline. This pipeline is still well within its service life, but it has several leaks that have gone unnoticed for as long as six years. The leaks are to blame for thousands of litres of drinking water not reaching town.

The DA has written to both the ANC-run district and local municipalities on several occasions requesting that the leaks be addressed immediately, but the municipalities have chosen to ignore the requests.

The water reticulation networks in Zeerust are severely aged, with many sections still containing old asbestos pipes that regularly fail under pressure. The current Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipal IDP and budget processes did not adequately budget for maintenance, let alone the upgrade and replacement of failing reticulation infrastructure.

Zeerust used to have two pressure pumping stations with duplicated systems and emergency-generated electricity to ensure constant water supply to municipalities, but the built-in redundancy was never replaced due to a lack of maintenance.

One of the current issues is that the Technical department chose to decommission the entire Drooge Street auxiliary pump station, resulting in an increase in frictional resistance within the system that must be overcome by adding pressure to the OpiTopi pump station, resulting in constant pipe bursts. Urgent specialist intervention is required to determine the minimum systemic needs for the current situation, and these recommendations must be obtained, installed, and duplicated.

The total lack of telemetry on all pumps, valves, and reservoirs contributes to the plethora of errors, and what should be a single look at an information screen on a computer in a control room is effectively changed to someone chasing from point to point trying to identify the problem.

The rapid urbanization of rural residents to Zeerust strains water supply, and Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipality’s failure to constantly review their Urban Sprawl Development Plan has resulted in water demands currently exceeding the capacity of available reservoirs.

The DA will raise at the next Council Meeting of the District to the Mayor, Khumalo Molefe, and the Speaker, Daphne Shuping, that it is critical that long-term planning to aid and alleviate the current situation begin immediately and be included in the yearly municipal planning cycles.

The DA will also at the next Ramotshere Moiloa Council Meeting ask the Mayor, Dina Modukanele, and Speaker, Kerileng Mogotsi, to prioritise the Integrated Development Plan and the Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan as soon as possible and clearly indicate the changes required to accommodate these prioritized projects.

The DA will then finally write to the Mayor and Municipal Manager, Allan Losaba, urging them to immediately repair the leaking pipeline at Rietpoort pump station and install adequate electricity generation capacity to ensure continuous drinking water supply to Zeerust

It has repeatedly been demonstrated that only a DA-run municipality gets things done.