Abandoned by government, Limpopo villagers plan to sink their own borehole

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  • Only one public borehole is working for 11 villages and thousands of households in the Nthabalala area near Elim, Limpopo.
  • Getting water is a daily struggle for the villagers.
  • Some villagers have now pooled funds and plan to sink their own borehole for about R90,000.
  • “We have no choice but to think for ourselves,” said a community leader.

Every morning in the early hours, Awelani Mukwevo has to find a way to get enough water for her household in Mathuli village, Limpopo. She either has to buy it, or to scoop some water with a plastic bottle from the top of an open borehole pipe near Thavha River (see the photo at end of this article).

The water shortage is because only one public borehole in the Nthabalala area near Elim is fully functioning, according to John Makamu, Nthabalala Tribal Coordinator.

Makamu has now sunk his own borehole and sells the water at R2 per 25 litres.

The single functioning public borehole, in Mphadzha village, can only supply water for two hours a day before it has to fill up again, according to David Maduwa, chairperson of the Nthabalala water committee. The water is pumped to a reservoir two kilometres away and from there is piped to the villages of Mpofu, Maduwa and Mphuphulenzhi. The water is not enough even for these villages and there are 11 villages in the area that need water.

Maria Mashele, who lives in Mphadzha, says she needs about 1,000 litres a week for her household, and she has to buy water. It costs her R400 a month. She has to use her social grant money.

“I have to be very strict with my children and siblings not to waste water,” said Mashele.

Residents say whenever a borehole broke, the municipality simply sank a new one. Mphadzha therefore has two more boreholes, but one has broken pipes and no power; the other borehole, which used to deliver a good supply, has had a broken motor since 2017, said Maduwa. Since it broke, the community has been battling with water outages, he said.

Masethe village has a borehole, but the water is dirty, according to Makamu. Manyima’s borehole is broken. The villages of Mathuli, Magoba, Munzhedzi, Ramulumo and Tavhanyini do not have boreholes.

Awelani Mukwevo fetching water from an open borehole. Image credit: Bernard Chiguvare

Makamu said they have had several meetings with Vhembe District Municipality, which is responsible for water supply. He said when the Thavha River borehole was sunk in 2016, “we were informed that there will be sufficient water for all the villages.” But the borehole has no power.

Tshiphiwa Razinani, of Vhakoma Trading Enterprise, the contractor who sank the borehole and was busy with the piping and the pump, told GroundUp he had not been paid for his work and so he had downed tools.

“For the first three months I managed to pay my ten workers from my own pocket but could not continue like that,” said Razinani.

The borehole has since been vandalised.

Matodzi Ralushai, spokesperson for Vhembe District Municipality, said the municipality was aware of one borehole that needed to be mended. He did not respond to our questions about Razinani’s payment.

Ward 18 Councillor Parrot Mashau (ANC), whose ward includes Mpofu, Mphadzha and Maduwa villages, said, “We are currently trying to get water tankered to these villages”.

The villagers of Mphadzha, Mpofu, Maduwa and Mphuphulenzhi have now decided to drill their own borehole. There are 240 households and each contributed R200 a month in February and March. A contractor has quoted them R87,000, but the community is looking for competitive quotes.

“We have no choice but to think for ourselves, otherwise we will suffer for a long time anticipating that the municipality will fix the boreholes,” said Maduwa.


This article was originally published by GroundUp and is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. It is republished with permission. Link to the original article HERE


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