Residents of Gibeon in the Hardap region are blaming poor leadership in the village council for intermittent water disruptions being faced by the community.
Community activist Niklaas Dawson said the community has been without water since Tuesday, which is becoming a frequent occurrence at Gibeon, where water provision to households is disrupted for at least two days every week.
“Gibeon is entering its second day again without water, with stand-alone toilets built for over N$70 000 becoming stinking pits. And yet the council cannot even provide water tanks for schools, clinics and businesses. We have to realise that we have no leadership.
“Currently from what we understand, there has been a pipe burst and the council is busy fixing that. That’s why we do not have water. But everybody knows that we receive our water from the Orap Dam at Mariental and every time there is a pipe burst or the water pressure is low, we will not have water.
“Why can the leadership not be watchful, like at Keetmanshoop, to not allow the water level in the dam to go so low that if you are fixing a pipe there is still sufficient water outflow to the community. It’s simple things like this that this council has not learned in four years,” said Dawson.
Ronald Bampton, a parent, threatened to take his children out of school despite it being exam time because pupils run the risk of falling ill due to the lack of water at schools being unhygienic.
Bampton said schools receive funds from the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture every year but do not invest in additional water tanks for times like these, which they have known about for years.
“I asked the principals today to send our children back because this is a regular occurrence and a health risk. I also told them to write emails to the Gibeon Village Council and NamWater to complain, as this is unacceptable,” said Bampton.
Principal of Hendrik Witbooi Primary School Fabiana Biwa said so far, no parent has come to the school to request that their children be released.
Biwa said even though there was no water on Tuesday from 09h30, there is no way they can send pupils home as they are writing regional examinations.
“Last week Thursday and Friday, we had a school board training and luckily our inspector was here because on Thursday there was no water. So since exams had not started yet, we informed her that we have to send the learners home for the rest of that day because toilets became a mess immediately.
“But, we informed her of our struggle and hopefully next year they will look into providing us with tanks because that will alleviate this problem. Daily, we tell our learners to bring water bottles to school because you never know when the water will disappear,” said Biwa.
Chairperson of the Gibeon Village Council Sharon Bezuidenhout said the 53km pipeline supplying water from boreholes located at Orap to Gibeon suffers from frequent pressure bursts due to ageing infrastructure and, therefore, the water flow is limited to 52 m3/h to reduce pipe breaks.
Bezuidenhout said NamWater’s pipes outside Gibeon are located very deep for digging to repair pipe bursts when the dam runs out of water, but for pipe breaks within Gibeon, they respond speedily to avoid long disruptions.
“The council is planning to source the village water supply from boreholes in the village that is home to 16 fountains and has an abundance of water. But we need like N$5 million in budget allocation to do these things and Gibeon receives on average about N$1,3 million for capital projects on an annual basis. However, it’s a challenge we have to solve, so we are working on it,” said Bezuidenhout.
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