As the province struggles to stretch the current water supply to prevent the taps running dry, the City of Cape Town is at pains to admit it has no tangible plans to curb water wastage in the townships, especially in the informal settlements.
Since the introduction of the water restrictions towards the end of last year, the City has been urging people to reduce their consumption and threatening to come down hard on water wasters.
Among others measure, it introduced water management devices and imposed heavy penalties on offenders.
However, it has failed to solve the problem in the townships.
Even with dam levels at a critical 36.2 percent, and only 26.2 percent of that water being usable, it remains business as usual in most townships.
Residents, particularly car wash owners, continue to wash their vehicles with hosepipes and do their laundry under running taps.
Asked about its intervention plans for the townships, the City’s mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg said there were active and ongoing enforcements and education and awareness initiatives in all areas of Cape Town, including in informal areas.
But a Vukani visit to these areas revealed that few people were aware of the ongoing restrictions.
However, Ms Limberg maintained that they were educating people and continued to engage with informal businesses such as car washes.
She added that there were numerous blitzes where fines were issued and hosepipes confiscated.
When Vukani visited Nyanga, Philippi, Samora and Khayelitsha, on Thursday and Friday November 16 and 17, it was business as usual. And early this week, people continued to use water recklessly. In some instances, running taps were left unattended.
One Samora Machel resident asked Vukani what it meant that we had a water shortage when we had the ocean.
Mr Limberg said even stricter restrictions would be implemented to reduce consumption, but could not give clear plans about rooting out wastage in the townships specifically.
“The City depends on all residents to adhere to restrictions and to save water. The City cannot be everywhere all the time and relies on all its residents to play their part to help Cape Town beat this drought. We can only do so by working together,” said Ms Limberg.
On the 75 people employed to handle water complaints and to identify problems, find leaks and make sure leaks are repaired, she said this number does not refer to staff in informal settlements.
These staff members have been allocated to bulk infrastructure maintenance and water management device roles. She said the informal settlements had their own staff. She called on residents to use water sparingly.
“We are calling on residents of informal settlements to minimise wastage by keeping taps closed and helping to keep toilets in a well maintained state to prevent leaks. We can only beat this drought by working together and to avoid a day when the taps run dry.”
She also thanked those residents who had gone to great lengths to save water on a daily basis and to ensure that they stick to their allowance of 87 litres a day.