Lotus River taps run dry

Rageema Williams has not had running water for three months.

While the rest of Cape Town celebrates the fact that the water supply will not be shut off any time soon, some Lotus River residents have been living through their own Day Zero for the past three months.

Those living on the top floors of the council flats found themselves high and dry when the water pressure was reduced.

Even though the problem was attended to, some residents are still battling for water.

Rageema Williams and her family, who live in Robyn Court, were among the unlucky residents who have had to find alternative ways to get water for drinking, washing and cooking.

Ms Williams has been asking neighbours and family members for water to do her daily tasks. She said the past three months have been tough.

“As a Muslim it has been very difficult for me and my family. We have certain religious cleansing rituals which is done with water. We can’t cook, do laundry or clean properly without running water, we can’t flush our toilets and can’t switch on our geysers because there’s no water in them. We can’t do anything without water. It has been terrible especially during the month of Ramadaan,” she said.

Ms Williams has only been a tenant at the City of Cape Town rental unit for eight months. She moved from Nita Road because it was a bigger space for her children and grandchildren. She wants the City to fix the water situation.

“I have laid several complaints with the rental office but the problem has not been resolved,” said Ms Williams.

Another resident who lives below Ms Williams, Solomon Adam, has not had water for more than a month.

He has been finding alternative ways to get water.

“I had to make a way to catch the rainwater from the gutters. Other than that my family and I have had to fetch water from friends and neighbours. The City was here once and said they were going to fix it but we are still sitting without water,” said Mr Adam.

Mary Manasse, who has been a tenant at Pearl Court for more than 15 years, said she was also affected.

“All the top units on the top floors were not getting water because the City of Cape Town reduced the water pressure because of water restrictions. It was fixed but some residents are still without water. Residents had to collect rainwater from puddles in the street. How can the City continue to let our people suffer without water for so long?”

One of the other residents who also lives in Robyn Court had to temporarily move to a family member because she was not able to continue living without running water.

Ms Manasse said Robyn, Pearl, Slate and Garner Place in Eland Avenue and Antelope Road in Lotus River have been forgotten.

“There are barely any services rendered at our courts. People complain about broken window sills, cracked walls but nothing ever gets fixed. The courts are falling apart because it is more than 30 years old already and no upgrades have been done,” she said.

The residents say recently a meeting was held with City officials and the ward councillor to discuss the installation of new cisterns. Residents, however, said the City could be spending the money on more pressing matters.

“They are installing cisterns but me and my family and other people have not had running water. Instead they want to save water with new cisterns. Why can’t they rather fix the flats and the water problem?” said Ms Williams

Ms Manasse agreed; “Money would be more wisely spent on fixing rental units and providing services to these flats that have been neglected.”

Stuart Diamond, the City’s Mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said they are aware of the problem at the courts and said their upgrade and maintenance department would assess the situation and assist as soon as possible.

Asked why some of the flats had not had water for months, he said as part of the City’s water-saving initiatives, pressure reduction management has been introduced throughout the metropole, including the courts.

He said the matter will be resolved soon and their tenancy management department will liaise with the water and sanitation department to increase the water pressure at the flats.

Mr Diamond also confirmed that retrofit cisterns were being installed as part of the City’s water-saving initiatives.

In response to residents’ complaints about lack of services at the courts, Mr Diamond said they will assess the flat complexes and will engage with the tenants.

Last week the City of Cape Town said major upgrades are planned for the council rental units across the city, focusing on critical elements such as the external surfaces, structural integrity, water damage and upgrades to the communal areas.

This will take place over a two-year period and will cost about R147 million.

Mr Diamond said the upgrades form part of the City’s Asset Management Improvement Plan to improve the condition of the City’s rental stock units.

“The council rental units are a vital part of the affordable residential accommodation continuum that provides homes to the poorest of the poor residents. The City owns approximately 50 000 rental units that are located across various areas of the metro. Some of the units were built as early as the 1940s and have since then been a home to thousands of residents,” he said.

Work is set to start in the new financial year.

Asked if Pearl, Robyn, Slate and Garnet Place courts will be included in these upgrades, Mr Diamond confirmed that they will form part of the upgrade and maintenance assessment management plan.