Despite their proximity to Ntimbale dam, which has a total capacity of 26 million cubic metres, most of the villages in the North East District face dire shortage of potable water.
The most affected villages are in Tati East constituency among them Jackalas 1, Senyawe,Tshesebe and Themashanga. Residents of the villages are already accusing government of neglecting them because they can go for weeks without access to potable water. They accuse government of not showing any commitment to resolve water problems in their villages.
Addressing a full council meeting on Tuesday, North East District Council Chairperson, Flora Mpetsane admitted that access to potable water remains a burning issue that needs to be addressed urgently. Mpetsane who is also councillor for Matsiloje ward stated that the main cause of the problem is limitation of water supply infrastructure, because the pipeline from Ntimbale dam that supplies water to some villages is too small leading to insufficient pressure. To add insult to injury, the existing water distribution infrastructure across villages is old and dilapidated, resulting in persistent leakages and pipe burst.
“It is worth noting that Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) is in the process of replacing badly leaking pipes and upgrading portions of the network as well as tank repairs,” she revealed. Furthermore, Mpetsane said water supply to Matopi and Patayamatebele is also not adequate as the villages are supplied from low yielding well points along Ramokgwebana and Shashe rivers, respectively. In an effort to resolve the problem, government managed to secure a P200 million loan from the World Bank that will be used to install a new pipeline. In a previous interview, Tati East legislator, Samson Guma indicated that the project was at design stage. Guma also said government was in the process of advertising the tender to fit new pipelines in most of the villages in his constituency.
Regarding private water connections, Mpetsane admitted that WUC has currently not been able to meet its service standard of effecting a connection within 40 days, leading to numerous complaints from members of the public. According to Mpetsane, the major contributing factor emanates from delay by suppliers to deliver materials on time. Additionally, the existing network in most villages is old and decrepit resulting in repeated pipe failures thus committing resources and causing delays in installation of new connections, Mpetsane said.
In relation to connection of pre-paid standpipes, the chairperson stipulated that 322 out of 426 pre-paid standpipes throughout the district are functional. “This translates to 78% of the standpipes, with most non-functional units affected by vandalism. Fellow councillors, I would like to indicate that this kind of scenario is heart breaking as it negatively affects government’s efforts of providing portable water to the community,” she lamented. Mpetsane urged her fellow councillors to devise strategies on how best to tackle the problem of vandalism of public pre-paid standpipes which costs government thousands of pula to repair them.