Michelle Deacon and baby Jaydon, who, together with husband Rocky, went without municipal water for more than 40 days. Photo supplied.
Date: 13 January 2019 By: Jo Robinson
Many residents of Louis Trichardt have, over time, attempted to live with the extended periods of water outages and problems in the Vhembe District by purchasing tanks and drilling boreholes at their own expense.
This usually meant that those with tanks hardly noticed when the water went off for a few days. The water outages at the end of 2018, however, were so lengthy that many tanks ran dry, and the whole town definitely noticed. Some local sellers of treated water quickly ran out of bottles, with water sales at an all-time high.
The great majority of residents cannot afford to have boreholes sunk or to purchase large water tanks. Rocky Deacon, his wife and seven-month-old baby are one such family. They had already been without water for 26 days when they spoke to the Zoutpansberger on 19 December last year.
The cost of purchasing water eventually had to be restricted to using it mainly for drinking and sparingly for cooking. Rocky said that the young family had had to make do with wiping down their bodies rather than having proper baths. “We have a seven-month-old baby, and it is bad, believe me,” said Rocky. “I work with clients every day, and I need to be clean. Eating is equally challenging with no water to cook with and trying to keep the kitchen hygienic.” Their water only came back on 4 January. They were one family among many in Louis Trichardt who had no water for Christmas this year.
Many residents are still without water after a dry two months, while others are attempting to hire private plumbers to fix gushing broken water pipes that are the responsibility of the municipality who, according to residents, are not following through on reports of leaks. Major leakages have been reported on the pipeline from the Albasini Dam that are also going unrepaired while residents in the Vhembe District continue to struggle. “It is so bad that we have to pay our water account every month, and then still go and pay more to buy water to use,” said Rocky. “My wife and I both work, but all of our money goes to cover rent and bills and our little one is our priority. Our budget is so tight it barely buys food, and we have had to try and stretch it to cover paying more than double for water for the past two months. This is not acceptable.” Rocky was one of several Louis Trichardt residents who spoke of the municipal water tanker as having heard of it but never having seen it in their own street or area.
Many residents are desperate to find out exactly what is causing such serious and widespread water outages. As things stand at the second week of 2019, the massive leak in the pipeline from Albasini Dam remains unrepaired. Residents’ queries and requests for help from the municipality appear to be continuing to fall on deaf ears, and the last media information request sent by the Zoutpansberger to spokesperson Mr Matodzi Ralushai in December remains unanswered.
Jo joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in 2018 pursuing a career in journalism after many years of writing fiction and non-fiction for other sectors.