Hammanskraal community’s plight for clean drinking water has been extended even further, this followed a fruitless site visit by the South African Human Rights Commission with an effort to observe and monitor the progress of the refurbishment project at the Rooiwal waste water treatment works recently.
With the water in Hammanskraal having been deemed ‘undrinkable’, the commission was hopeful that the project to upgrade the Rooiwal waste water treatment would be quicker and help in providing safe and clean water for the people of Hammanskraal, however the project proved to be taking longer than expected.
As part of their monitoring mandate, the Commission also visited Temba Water Purification Plant on a fact-finding mission to inspect the recent maintenance issues that led to the deterioration of the water and temporary shutdown of the plant and the Rooiwal wastewater treatment works to assess the progress of the refurbishment project happening there.
According to Group Head of Water and Sanitation for the City of Tshwane, Stephens Notoane, due to a growing population in Hammanskraal, the plant which was originally built for a very small population was now struggling to keep up and provide water for about 40% of the City of Tshwane.
During the site visit, SAHRC Gauteng Provincial Head Buang Jones explained that the SAHRC began investigating the situation in Hammanskraal in 2019, deeming it appropriate and in the public’s interest.
In August 2019 the SAHRC declared the water in Hammanskraal “unfit for human consumption”, and in March of this year held an inquiry into the water quality of Roodeplaat Dam. They plan to release a report of their findings regarding the challenges pertaining to water and sanitation in the City of Tshwane, in the hopes of finding a lasting solution.
Although Jones said he was happy with the full cooperation from the City of Tshwane and the Department of Water and Sanitation, he is unhappy with the slow pace of the first phase of refurbishment.
“We are not happy with the fact that the people of Hammanskraal continue to drink water that is not safe for human consumption,” said Jones. “Until all those violations have been remedied, we will continue to come here, we will continue to exert pressure on government to discharge its constitutional obligations.
“We are happy with the cooperation that we have received from the Department of Water and Sanitation and the city of Tshwane. We are happy with the progress report that we have received. But we cannot be happy that people continue to endure these violations and drink water that in the long term could compromise their health.”
Phase one of the refurbishment project of Rooiwal wastewater treatment works was contracted in January 2020.
As it stands, phase one is 58% complete, which Jones is unimpressed with.
According to Jones, the first phase was meant to be finished in early 2022, but because of project delays (hampered by lockdown restrictions), the Municipality say they’re hoping to complete the first phase by August 2022.
Another concern Jones voiced is that the Municipality has not yet secured funding for the second and third phases of the project, adding, “these are critical phases which will address the ongoing violations and challenges downstream.”
Dumisani Gubuza, the Divisional Head for Tshwane Municipality’s Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Planning and Implementation division, confirmed that the funding has yet to be sourced.
The municipality has said water sourced from Rooiwal works is not safe to drink or cook with and is supplying water tankers to a portion of Hammanskraal until the Rooiwal works becomes operational and can supply safe drinking water.