Crumbling infrastructure leaves Eastern Cape villagers without water


“We are lucky because we recently got rain”

Photo of a woman walking with a bucket on her head
Villagers in Mcungo fetch water from a river since the taps ran dry in December 2018. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Villagers in Mcungco near Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape have gone for weeks without clean drinking water, and Chris Hani District Municipality says it will be another month before tap water is restored.

According to ward councillor Albertinah Rotyi (ANC), Cube village, a few kilometres away, is also affected. Water is piped from Cofimvaba to Qamata, then to Mcungco and Cube. She said the pipes are old and break.

According to the district head for engineering services, Lizeka Bongo-Tyali, an engine used to pump water to Mcungco broke down last year. “But as we speak we bought a new engine and we are busy installing it,” she said. This will take a month.

A water truck has been sent twice since December; the last time at the end of January. Rotyi said the water trucks have to travel from Queenstown over 80km away. In the meantime, villagers rely on rain water and water from a river.

Resident Fakashe Mpolo said, “We are lucky now because we recently got rain. People here are really struggling.” He said the village has many elderly people who live alone and cannot fetch water from the river or afford to hire people to fetch water for them. “Cows drink there and pigs swim there.”

Another resident, who identified herself only as Mandala, said the water from the water trucks was “dirty water but it was better than nothing”. But she said, “We were not going to complain.” She is 63, diabetic, has high blood pressure, and lives one kilometre from the river. She pays youngsters R20 to fetch water for her.

She was in hospital when it rained. “For us who missed the rain we have no other option – we must hire the boys to get us water,” she said.

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TOPICS:  Water

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