Unions and communities march against water tariff increases in Cape Town

Unions and community leaders marched to the Cape Town Civic Centre against the proposed tariff increases. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Unions and communities marched against the steep tariff increases that the City of Cape Town is proposing.

Civic Centre, Foreshore, Cape Town, South Africa

On Wednesday, an alliance of community organisations under the banner of the Water Crisis Coalition took to the streets along with the South African Federation of Trade Union to demonstrate against what they referred to as “an onslaught on the poor and working class communities by the City.”

In her 2018/2019 budget speech, the mayor of Cape Town announced an increase in water tariffs of 26.9 percent.

The Water Crisis Coalition (WCC) is against the increase and condemns the Day Zero scare that the City used to impose restrictions on residents of Cape Town.

Shaheed Mahomed from the WCC read the demands at the Civic Centre: “Stop installation of water management devices, remove those already installed and reverse the charges and fines.”

Ernest Mayekiso from Delft township told Elitsha that they are struggling with water management devices and the restrictions have added to their plight. “In Delft South we started experiencing water problems after the installation of new water devices. Every morning there is no water. We do not bath. No breakfast for learners. Surprisingly, water charges also increased. I used to pay R130 water bill per month but it is now almost doubled,” he says, adding that water meter devices do not give accurate readings and residents end up paying large sums of money for water they did not use.

The Delft communities now resort to storing a few litres of water in containers for future use.

According to Mlibo Saji, another WCC committee member the water meter devices do not work properly and are not  SABS approved.

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“Since installation water bills have gone up. This limitation on water use is a problem. Residents in Khayelitsha have big families and the litres we are required to use is very little,” says Saji.

In Mitchell’s Plain, Moefieda Warmington says devices have attracted thieves to their homes.

“The devices have a copper part in it and thieves get attracted. So far many houses have fallen victim.”

Picture of Theewaterskloof dam taken in February 2018. Photo by Mzi Velapi

The WCC is also demanding the opening of all 70 springs to the public and that water be taken to where it is needed. According to Mahomed, the City needs to treat the spring water before distributing it to residents.

Among other demands, the WCC is asking the City to force large scale agriculture to adopt smart irrigation methods.

Meanwhile, Mayor Patricia de Lille at a full council meeting on Wednesday said the city received more than 24,900 comments from residents of which approximately 80% were water, electricity and rates tariff objections.

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About Bernard Chiguvare 50 Articles
Originally from Zimbabwe and since 2014 I been contributing to different publications in South Africa. My area of focus as a reporter is on the rights of vulnerable communities and foreign nationals in any country.