Water at end of the tunnel?

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Local farmers lending a helping hand to residents of Lourier Park in Bloemfontein during the water crisis. Photo: Facebook

Christmas came early for residents in Bloemfontein after it was confirmed that Bloemwater had restored the water to full supply following an out-of-court agreement between the entity and Mangaung Metro Municipality.

However, the ball is now officially in the court of the municipality as the entity states that this 100% restoration of water is a temporary measure dependent on Mangaung’s honouring the agreement commitment. The MMM’s failure to strictly adhere to any of the time frames given will automatically trigger a water reduction.

In a statement by Bloemwater it is explained that the in the agreement, Mangaung committed a total of R120 million by the 10th December, of which a partial payment of R35 million will be paid by tomorrow (Friday). In the agreement the MMM has also reaffirmed its pledge to pay the other outstanding amounts within the following time frames: R85 million on Thursday, 10 December 2020 and monthly invoiced amounts of the current account.

This comes after the city’s bulk water provider had started to once again gradually reduce the water supply on 27 November due to non-payment by the Manguang Metro Municipality (MMM).

This decision saw many angry residents take to social media to express their disappointment towards the MMM once more, as many either had no water coming out of their taps or very little. Water tankers were provided by other parties as a helping aid for residents. Local farmers stepped in to help with Jojo water tankers to residents of Lourier Park in Bloemfontein.

A media statement from Bloemwater explained that the current situation is very critical as it has placed Bloemwater’s financial capacity in an unprecedented crisis. The entity is unable to meet its monthly financial obligations with the crucial one being financing of operations.

It further says that they have noted with concern that the Metro enjoys being supplied with water at full capacity, imposing tariff increases and continuing to operate normally while not servicing its water debt with Bloemwater.

Meanwhile the Manguang Metro Municipality confirmed that, in the meeting led by Acting Executive Mayor, Lebohang Masoetsa, together with the provincial government representatives and Bloemwater, it was agreed that though there are technical and administrative issues that are supposed to be dealt with, the community must not suffer as a result.

The meeting agreed on the immediate restoration of water whilst the teams focus on the partial payment and disputed bill, amongst other matters.

Sazly Hartzenberg

sazly@centralmediagroup.co.za