Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Councillors in the eThekwini Municipality have identified the water tanker system as a significant factor contributing to water shortages in the city. The issue stems from the fact that water tankers are not metered, leading to their classification as “non-revenue water.”

Themba Mvubu, the Head of the Infrastructure and Human Settlements portfolio for the City and an EFF Councillor, highlighted that water tankers play a substantial role in the phenomenon of “non-revenue water.” This term refers to water purchased from the bulk supplier, uMngeni-uThukela Water, that goes unaccounted for due to various reasons.

Mvubu, who has been in eThekwini for less than a year, pointed out that the water used to fill tankers, which is then distributed to areas like Phoenix and Verulam, is not metered. Consequently, this water is not tracked or measured, falling under the category of non-revenue water.

Visvin Reddy, former board member at uMngeni Water and leader of African Democratic Change, expressed concern over the depletion of eThekwini’s water supply by water tankers. Reddy questioned the city’s decision to purchase additional tankers instead of addressing existing issues like leaks and vandalism.

In August of the previous year, Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda announced the acquisition of 55 new water tankers, claiming they were necessary to reach any terrain in the city. However, critics argue that this move exacerbates the problem, as the city’s non-revenue water reached 58% in 2023, a significant increase from 37% in 2013.

The eThekwini Municipality, in response to concerns raised by the South African Human Rights Commission, outlined plans to reduce non-revenue water. Spokesperson Gugu Sisilana attributed water losses to illegal connections, aging infrastructure, flood damage, and vandalism. However, Sisilana did not acknowledge the contribution of water tankers to non-revenue water.

Phoenix Civil Movement vice chairperson Alice Govender questioned the city’s decision to spend over R100 million on new water tankers instead of addressing infrastructure issues. The municipality has yet to respond to queries regarding non-revenue water, leaving citizens concerned about the allocation of resources amidst a growing water crisis.

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