Water tanker drivers bear the brunt of angry residents

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – SEPTEMBER 25: Laudium residents fetch water from a water tanker on September 25, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Many parts of Ekurhuleni Johannesburg and Pretoria have been without water for a few days, this follows a power outage at one of Rand Water’s main reservoirs last week. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Theana Breugem)

POLOKWANE – The water tanker drivers have been bearing the brunt of people’s anger as water supply continues to be a luxury for some residents.

The drivers have been in the fireline as they are the ones who interact with residents on daily basis.

Read more: #WaterShortages: We didn’t plan, says Municipality

This has led to some of the drivers fearing for their safety as frustration continues to mount, as residents seek clear and definite answers from the municipality about how long the disruption in water supply will continue.

Read more: [WATCH] “You can’t send water tankers at midnight and expect us to fetch water”

A driver, explained that he has had a problem with a resident belittling him. “There was one incident where I stopped at what I thought was a mutual place for resident to collect water, but a man came up to me and started shouting at me, because the tank was too far from his house and there was no way he could carry his water all the way home. He demanded that I move the truck to the front of his gate. I tried to explain to him that I could not do that because then everyone will demand that the truck stop at their gates,” he said. The driver said that the man shouted, telling him that it is the taxpayers who pay his salary and he should listen to what the taxpayers want. The resident went as far as threatening to report him for favouritism.

Another driver said that he is weary of delivering water in the evening because it seems that residents get even more annoyed with drivers.

“I wish they would understand that the situation is beyond my control, I just deliver the water. I have been told by a resident that they will show us during the elections next year, and I have to explain that I play no role in politics. I am also tired of questions about when the water will be restored because I don’t have the answers to those questions, I only have one job, which is to take water to the people,” he said.

Matshidiso Mothapo, Spokesperson for the Polokwane Municipality explained that the provision of water by water tankers is an essential service that the municipality has to undertake when normal supply is disrupted and during crisis period.

“The municipality has a duty to provide alternative supply to affected areas and this will continue until the situation improves.

Currently, the high areas in the city and Seshego are affected by continuous disruptions, these include parts of Flora Park, Serala View, Ster Park, Bendor, Ivy Park/Dale. This is because the reservoir levels cannot generate enough pressure to reach the high areas as a result of disruptions of adequate supply from the sources. The experience during various consultation meetings with affected communities and reports from the call centre is that communities make input on how to improve water tanker service and also requests for tanker during this period,” he said.

He further iterated that at times, particularly when a bigger area is experiencing disruptions and due to the limited number of tankers available, the tankers can only reach some areas late at night.

“The municipality is not aware of the aggression. If there are, it could be isolated incidences. It would be wrong for the rest of the community to be denied access to water due to an isolated incident. The municipality continues to appreciate the cooperation and patience by all affected stakeholders,” he said.

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  AUTHOR
Miranda Chauke
Journalist

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