Durban – The water crisis, due to vandalism and sabotage in the Ugu District Municipality, continues to affect the hospitality and tourism sectors.
Despite the Covid-19 lockdown, the owners of B&Bs on Durban’s South Coast said holidaymakers were arriving and the water outages would affect business, while residents have taken to social media to complain.
The owner of Sea-Spray Self Catering in Margate, who declined to be named, said 30 guests were booked last Tuesday and had it not been for her quick thinking, they would have left.
“There has been no water for about four weeks. When they arrived, both my JoJo tanks were empty. Some of the guests wanted to cancel the booking and wanted a refund. I then ordered 5 000 litres of water but the delivery truck did not arrive. Fortunately, my neighbour, who is supplied by a different reservoir, helped me fill the tanks and the guests stayed.”
A guest house owner in Ramsgate said he was forced to buy a JoJo tank. “It was costly but necessary. If not, I would have had to close. When there is no water, I have to outsource the laundry.”
He said he was still recovering from the losses incurred during the lockdown, but over the past few weeks business had gradually improved. “I am grateful that the festive season will keep me busy. I am fully booked until New Year’s Eve.“
A hotel owner in Port Shepstone said they currently had water.
“But the supply is interrupted now and then. It has become difficult to rely on a constant water supply … I am honest with customers and they are aware of the challenges in this region. I am just grateful that they have remained faithful throughout.”
Residents along the affected areas on the South Coast have also complained on the Facebook group Ugu Complaints.
– “Still no water in Boyes Lane, Margate CBD. Ugu, what is going on?”
– “As the sun sets on day 21, we still sit with not one drop of water in Manaba Beach and no feedback from anyone.”
– “We now have brown water to drink in Shelly Beach. Cannot be healthy!”
– “Fifth Friday in a row that Port Edward is without water.”
– “Once again, start of a new week without water in Marine Drive, Margate.”
Phelisa Mangcu, of the Ugu South Coast Tourism, said: “We understand measures are being taken to address the water situation in the long term but for the interim, the Ugu District Municipality will continue to dispatch water tankers to all affected areas. We also encourage tourism establishments, where possible, to install water retention tanks.”
She said they would continue “to work with all stakeholders to alert the municipality about problems as they arose, and ensure all visitors have a positive experience”.
“Despite these challenges, the KZN South Coast remains an established family holiday destination that offers extremely good value for money. Therefore we are confident that there will be a big influx of visitors.”
Mangcu said several tourism establishments had provided positive feedback on December bookings.
“Some are with 100% occupancy rates already. The many outdoor, nature-based activities have proven to be an attractive option for people who had been confined to their homes during the lockdown.”
Lulamile Bodla, president of the South Coast Chamber of Commerce, said they met with Sizwe Ngcobo, the Ugu mayor, and he promised to work on the water matter.
“This is a big concern for us as a chamber, as we thought that businesses would recover under lockdown level 1, but now with the water issue, it has become a double blow.”
Bodla said they encouraged its members to have their own water storage, but some guests had cancelled their December bookings in October. “What’s worse is that this issue is not only affecting the hospitality industry but everyone, because water is a basic need to all.”
France Zuma, the spokesperson for the Ugu District Municipality, said they were dismayed by the escalating acts of vandalism and sabotage of municipal infrastructure. He said this resulted in many areas in the district suffering prolonged supply interruptions.
Zuma said a back-up generator room at the Hanover pump station was burned two weeks ago and a pump station in Umzinto was vandalised. “It is believed that vandals broke the security gate to gain access, as electrical panel doors were illegally opened. Technicians discovered that motor cables were stolen, while all electrical components such as generators, control box and cables were vandalised, resulting in raw sewage spillage.”
Zama said Ugu viewed these as criminal acts and had since opened a case with the Port Edward police station.
Rishigen Viranna, the DA Ugu South constituency head, said: “We call on the premier to push the MEC of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sipho Hlomuka, to place the district under Section 139 administration and appoint a competent administrator. The problems are both service delivery and political.”
In a letter to Sihle Zikalala, the KZN Premier, the DA said that almost 150 000 residents on the South Coast were without water for 16 days.
“Not only is this a brewing humanitarian crisis, but the Ugu District Municipality is also violating Covid-19 regulations. As the Covid-19 second wave hits, hand-washing is a vital prevention measure. Due to the lack of water provision, residents cannot comply with this vital measure.”
Article written by: Thandeka Mgqibi
Photo credit: SABC News