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Water crisis intensifies in Verulam

Sameera Casmod | sameerac@radioislam.co.za
17 April 2024 | 12:10 p.m. SAST
2-minute read

Picture: Dispatch Live

Frustration and anger continue to mount among residents of Verulam in KwaZulu-Natal who are demanding immediate action to solve the ongoing water crisis.

Roshan Lil-Ruthan, communications spokesperson and liaison for the Verulam Water Crisis Committee, provided an update on the situation on Radio Islam’s Sabaahul Muslim programme.

Following a visit by Minister of Water and Sanitation Mr Senzo Mchunu prior to Ramadan, where assurances were given, residents experienced a brief respite with water supply for 48 hours, only for it to disappear once the minister departed.

The community, predominantly fasting during Ramadan, faced heightened challenges exacerbated by the scarcity of water.

“It was one of the most challenging Ramadan for our communities that, you know, that are Muslim and that were fasting. And to add insult to that, we had a death of a Muslim individual by the name of Junaid in the Trenance Park area, the worst affected area. Prior to him breaking fast, he went to get water for his family. And while lifting a drum of water, he had a heart attack and he succumbed. And that’s the tragedy of this disaster,” Lil-Ruthan says.

Despite assurances from government officials, including the need for significant funding to address infrastructure issues, tangible progress has been slow to materialise.

“The situation… is an issue of funding. You’ve heard the deputy president saying through the mayor or the mayor saying through the deputy president last week that they need R130 billion to fix the water woes of eThekwini.”

Politicking around water issues has further frustrated residents, who are demanding action over empty promises.

“There’s suddenly been an emergence of politicians and independent candidates all visiting Verulam when they’ve never done for the last eight years and making empty promises to the people,” Lil-Ruthan says.

In response, the Verulam Water Crisis Committee convened a war room meeting with key stakeholders, including the South African Human Rights Commission, eThekwini municipality and a team of engineers.

Discussions focused on holding accountable suppliers like Umgeni-Uthukela, who have failed to meet contractual obligations, resulting in inadequate water supply to the northern aqueduct.

Efforts are underway to expedite the commissioning of a new aqueduct and the finalisation of critical valves in the network to improve water flow to the region.

The target date for completion is set for May 2024, raising hopes for a steady water supply to alleviate the crisis.

Listen to the full interview on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat.

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