Declare a state of disaster now to save NMB from Day Zero

Issued by Cilliers Brink, MP – DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
22 Jun 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Cilliers Brink, MP.

The DA is calling on the Eastern Cape government to declare a provincial state of disaster specifically for the drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay.

Day Zero will hit Nelson Mandela Bay within a matter of days and this will leave 40% of the city’s residents without water.

It is unthinkable that the provincial government has not seen the urgency of declaring a drought disaster in the Eastern Cape, specifically as Nelson Mandela Bay is set to become the first metropolitan municipality in the world to run out of water.

We believe a state of disaster will create the sense of urgency needed to deal with the situation. This will also enable the metro to ask for the urgent assistance of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) in respect of ensuring public safety at communal taps, to help with logistics at these water collection points, and possible water rationing.

I will be writing to the provincial MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Xolile Nqatha, imploring him to declare a provincial drought disaster with all urgency. I will also copy the national minister of CoGTA, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in this communication. If the provincial government is unwilling to act, national government must take charge and declare a state of disaster.

A state of disaster declaration will also unlock other government resources that can be used to mitigate the impact of the water crisis.

I have been informed that by the end of this month the KwaNobuhle pump station will be fully upgraded and will have the functionality to draw water from the Nooitgedacht Low-Level Scheme, that can be integrated into the water reticulation system.

That will be crucial in order to partly prevent the southern and western parts of the city from running out of water. We need further commitment from the metro’s political leadership that they are willing to complete all projects that will integrate Nelson Mandela Bay’s water reticulation in a bid to give all communities fair access to water.

Today, 22 June 2022, I conducted an oversight inspection at a site in St George’s Park in Nelson Mandela Bay where four boreholes have been sunk. (see pictures here, here and here)

Boreholes have also been drilled across the metro, but due to delays with the construction of filtration plants and booster pumps, these water sources have not been integrated into the reticulation system.

There is no time to waste and plans must now be made in regards to how the metro can make use of this water immediately. There are safety issues regarding unpurified water, but once a state of disaster is declared, we can draw from the knowledge of experts on how the usage of this water can be expedited.

The ANC-led coalition government has proved incapable of dealing with this crisis.

The DA will do all it can to assist residents during this unprecedented drought, drawing from the best practice that our governments have already shown in drought disaster management.