Mopani community remains without water as Eskom fails to power up boreholes

A Limpopo district municipality’s plan to provide adequate clean running water to its 1.1 million people remains a pipe dream after Eskom failed to power up its boreholes, The Mopani district municipality has drilled more than 200 boreholes in the past three years, but the majority are not operational.

For 22 years, the district has been virtually waterless after it was hard-hit by drought. In 2009, government declared the Mopani district municipality a disaster area after many years of poor rain.

The situation became dire after two main water sources in the area, the Middle Letaba and Nsami dams dried up. In 2014, former president Jacob Zuma visited the area and ordered then minister of water and sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane to solve the problem by appointing a service provider, which failed to deliver.

The district turned to boreholes in an effort to mitigate the protracted drought that had forced residents to compete for dirty water with donkeys, monkeys, and cattle.

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Mopani’s executive mayor Pule Shayi said: “We have made applications to Eskom to energise these boreholes. The boreholes have been drilled and equipped but they have been sitting idle.

“Sometimes it takes about six months or more for Eskom to respond to our application.

“We have reached a point where we can’t wait for Eskom anymore.

Eskom said all its load customers had to follow a similar process, which included receiving an application from the customer, the quote being accepted by the customer, producing a detailed design, ordering materials and finally connecting the customer.

Eskom national spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said: “Eskom always strives to connect all load customers within a period not exceeding 120 days. But the time to connect will still be influenced by the complexity of the project, whether there is already an existing infrastructure and network.

“In other instances, there are mandatory regulatory requirements that need to be fulfilled, such as environment impact assessment, which Eskom cannot influence.”

The Citizen can reveal that three municipal officials, including a supervisor, were suspended recently in Mopani for working with service providers to allegedly defraud the district of R3 million by illegally connecting a transformer to Eskom instead of following proper channels.

Mantshantsha said connecting to the network without proper authorisation created a safety risk and hazard to Eskom personnel and the public.

Eskom imposes punitive remedial fees of R6 500 to R100 000, depending on the size of the installation. “Some cases can result in legal prosecution.

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Lola Smith

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