The Department of Water and Sanitation says it will consider legal action to force the Tshwane Municipality to provide clean drinking water to residents of Hamanskraal, north of Pretoria.

The department claims that there has been little or no progress at the Rooiwal Sewage Treatment Plant.

Water is a basic human right that has been denied to most of the people living in Hamanskraal. And the recent shutdown of the contractor appointed for the first phase of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade and renovation has led to further delays.

For residents like Thabo Mthetwa, there is no hope left. “I don’t think the problem is going to end anytime soon because it’s been going on for a long time and it seems to have gotten into politics.”

Businesses are also feeling the brunt of this problem. “We get less water during the day and the level increases from 10pm to early morning. The backup system is also not able to provide pressure on days when there is no water at all,” says car wash owner Karaba Maluleka.

On the other hand, it is an opportunity to turn a problem into something profitable. As summer approaches, business is sure to thrive on hot days.

“Water is a necessary commodity and I took the opportunity to sell it, especially in a region where it is scarce and business is good,” says Siziwe Temeki, a street vendor.

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu recently accused the City of Tshwane of delaying the resolution of the problem. And to this day, the city still won’t budge.

“As far as we know there has been no progress in terms of appointing another contractor and that is very important in terms of getting the plant back online and operating at optimum. This issue is of great concern to the department. and we had an engagement with the City of Tshwane that did not bear fruit in the sense that the City actually postponed a number of meetings that should have already been held,” says Sputnik Ratau: Spokesperson for the Water and Sanitation Service.

Ratov says the department will continue to work with the city. If all else fails, they will go to court. Although some organizations also realized the shortcomings of the city, they, however, condemned the blame game.

“This kind of finger-pointing from national to local government will not solve the problem, and while they are doing it, the people of Hamanskraal still do not have clean water to drink. We therefore believe that the Department of Water and Sanitation needs to take a more proactive role and hold the City of Tshwane accountable for the non-delivery and mismanagement of the pressing water problem,” says Dr. Ferrial Adam from Outa.

The nearly R300-million project, which was scheduled to be completed last month after an original May completion date was missed, appears to be far from complete. Efforts to get a comment from the Tshwane Municipality were unsuccessful.

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