News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Cape residents, unions slam City water device

Yugendree Naidoo

Concerns are being raised about the ongoing roll-out of tens of thousands of water management devices in Cape Town, which the City says conserves water, but which some residents complain are often faulty and lead to their water supply being cut off.

Almost 31,000 devices – which critics argue are targeted mainly at poor households – have been installed across the metro to date, in addition to 32,496 households who are currently on the trickle system, according to information provided by the City.

The two systems are separate in the sense that the water management device allows a free flow of water until a daily allocation out of the monthly 6,000 free kilolitres is reached, after which water cuts off unless more has been purchased.

The trickle system leads to the 6,000 free kilolitres being released through a restricted flow over the period of a month.

The City has denied the device is being installed only in poor households as a way of controlling municipal arrears, but its figures show that there are 15,028 of the devices in the poor suburbs of Delft, Atlantis and Westbank compared to three between Crawford, Rosebank and Claremont.

In Static Heights, a 236 house housing project in Kewtown, Athlone, residents say they are frustrated with the device.

Kewtown community leader Amina Rajap said although households should take ownership of their water consumption, the device was also an inconvenience because officials were often slow in reactivating faulty devices.

“I constantly receive complaints from most of the 114 families over the device,” she said.

One Static Heights woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, complained that the device in her household was faulty.
“I can’t even do the washing or cooking because the water cuts off before we have used the prescribed amount.”

She said their worst experience had been going without water for three consecutive days.

She said her grandmother was a cancer patient and sometimes there was not enough water to bath her.

In February, Parliament’s portfolio committee on Water Affairs and Forestry heard testimony from complaining residents who were living with the device and called for a report from the City on the issue.

Current committee chairperson, ANC MP Maggie Sotyu, was unable to comment this week, but the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) says it is seeking legal advice on the devices.

Samwu regards the water management device as the same as the pre-paid water meter, which the Johannesburg High Court ruled last year was unconstitutional – a ruling being appealed by the City of Johannesburg.

Samwu national researcher Jeff Rudin said the water management device was a pre-paid meter “dressed up in drag” and called for a moratorium on its installation.

Rudin said the argument for saving water was “laughable” and the device was instead about credit control as it was mostly installed in poor areas.

He said water was a constitutional right and should not be restricted.

But according to a March press release issued by the city, the devices are saving 156 million litres of water worth R519,000 every month.

City of Cape Town director of water, sanitation and utility services Lungile Dhlamini said the objective was not to restrict water supplies, but rather to provide water to customers which they could afford.

This happened through the process of repairing leakages at properties, installing flow management devices and then writing off account arrears.

Dhlamini said there was a “very low incidence” of faulty devices. Nor was water cut off due to faulty devices, he said, but only due to daily allocations being exceeded or leaks reoccurring. — West Cape News

Tags: Water

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One Response to “Cape residents, unions slam City water device”

  1. Bertie Loubser says:

    I have two properties that I would like water meters to be instaled.
    I am prepared to pay for the meters and instalation

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