Thursday, 18 July 2013

Of 67 minutes and service delivery

Last year on Mandela Day my friends and I dedicated more than 67 minutes to fix the tap where most of our community members get their drinking water. It was an act of necessity more than it was out of the goodness of our hearts.

I live in a rural area where access to water is a long-standing challenge. One would imagine that given the water scarcity challenges confronting the country the response to this particular challenge would be swift. The tap in question is located right next to the Umzumbe Local Municipality offices. I reluctantly approached the receptionist at the municipal office for assistance. My previous experiences with the officials at this municipality had not been great. On one occasion I was made to wait an hour to see the Speaker. Mind you I had made an appointment with the said person and had called the previous day to confirm that appointment.

The receptionist didn't give me much of a reception. She told me that Umzumbe Local Municipality did not deal with water issues, that I should call the relevant body and that being Ugu Water. I then asked if she could call Ugu Water on our behalf to which she refused citing stolen telephone cables that had rendered the municipality not reachable over the phone. I believed her and just as I was leaving the reception area a miracle happened. The phone rang and she promptly answered it as her job dictated thus. I hung around a bit, hoping that she would call me back and make the call to Ugu Water on my behalf. I decided to walk away when she did not call me back. I had been hopeful given that she had the means to call Ugu Water on our behalf.

I gave a report back to my friends and we then called Ugu Water. The response we got was that they would send a people over to attend to the problem. After waiting for close to two hours we eventually decided to attend to the broken tap ourselves. It was clear that help would not come. So off we went, shovels and picks on our shoulders, tools determined to fix the tap ourselves. Some 2 hours later and more than 200 litres of wasted water we were victorious in fixing the tap.

Today, being Mandela Day, I was reminded of the events of that day last year. I walked past the tap my friends and I had fixed last year. The situation has gotten worse. Instead of there being a tap there is now a pipe that has a nozzle to control the flow of water. There is a puddle of mud where the pipe sits and one must do a balancing act on the stones that have been placed there to make the tap accessible. The health of the community is potentially at risk as a result of this.

It is safe to conclude that the Umzumbe Local Municipality is not bothered by the state of this once-was-tap pipe that gives drinking water to the community it serves. The fact this pipe sits literally two paces from their premises is neither here nor there. I think they await others to give of their 67 minutes to make up for their service delivery debacle.