Sedibeng Water has started laying a three kilometer water pipe between Phuthaditjhaba and Uniqwa in QwaQwa as part of efforts to improve supplies to the water scarce area, Free State Weekly has learnt.
Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) Provincial Head Free State Dr Tseliso Ntili said the project, which is expected to be completed in the next five months, is part of a major undertaking recently announced by minister Lindiwe Sisulu when she visited the area amid protests for improved water supplies a few weeks ago.
“Sedibeng Water has been given a directive to immediately address water supply challenges in QwaQwa and ensure water availability on the taps,” said Ntili.
“The water delivered via the new pipes which are 500 millimeters in diameter will be distributed across the greater Phuthaditjhaba area which has been dogged by perennial water shortages over the years,” he added.
During her visit, Sisulu also made an undertaking that 10 water tankers would be delivered as part of the interim measures to address the water challenges. The trucks have since been delivered.
Ntili said Sedibeng Water has also been refurbishing the dysfunctional reticulation infrastructure in QwaQwa as part of the intervention.
The dysfunctional infrastructure is the responsibility of the local government but the DWS had intervened in order to alleviate the emergency situation.
“The DWS is not taking over the reticulation. It is simply supporting the local municipality to ensure clean water is delivered to the residents,” he explained.
A total of R220 million has been set aside for the water supply intervention project.
The DWS has appealed for patience from the community while it works with different stakeholders to address their plight.
The department also urged residents to continue using water sparingly in an effort to conserve this precious resource.
Violence has erupted in the small eastern Free State town in January after an eight-year-old girl drowned while she and her brother were fetching water in a river.
The community, which has faced water shortages for years, took to the streets appealing to the authorities to urgently address the situation.
The protesters blocked roads with rocks and burning tyres. They also stopped vehicles from entering or leaving the town, virtually shutting down the area.