Water situation desperate in Hankey and Patensie

Towns’ population swells with thousands of seasonal workers needed to harvest the citrus crop

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Photo of dirt road with a truck

Residents fetch water from a municipal water truck in the parched, dusty town of Hankey in the Eastern Cape. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Residents of Hankey and Patensie in the Eastern Cape say they are in dire straits because of a shortage of water, and the situation is getting worse as seasonal workers arrive to harvest the citrus crop.

Kouga Municipality’s head of infrastructure and engineering Councillor Willem Gertenbach said the water level in the Kouga dam has dropped below 5% “with no significant rainfall predicted for the catchment area over the next few months”.

The municipality currently provides water to residents using three tankers with 15,000 litres each.

Hankey Ward 9 Councillor Sibongile Jujwana said the tankers are not enough for the home population of 12,000. “The region receives thousands of migrant workers … I am afraid that this will create chaos,” he said.

Jujwana has two jojo tanks at his office which are now dry. Anelisa Mti used to get her water from them. “I have nowhere to get drinking water from now,” she said. “I want to bath and cook before I go to work at night. The mobile tankers always bring insufficient water and I can’t depend on their service which is very poor.”

Nokuphumla Dela, who runs Umzamomhle preschool in Hankey with 48 children, has four jojo tanks. However, she said, “Each time the tanks were refilled, residents would scale the fence and cause a commotion here. Their behaviour frightened children … I decided not to refill them.”

She now fetches water from the mobile tankers when she can.

The Kouga Dam was at 4.29% on Monday, 17 May.

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TOPICS:  Water

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