NIEU-BETHESDA NEWS - Following the hail and rain storm in Nieu-Bethesda on Tuesday last week, the town has been without water for seven days.
Water started to trickle from the taps in the village only yesterday morning (Wednesday 20 January), giving residents hope that the damaged water pumps have been repaired. Comment from the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality is being awaited.
Following the flash floods in the town, the taps dried up, storm water drains were blocked, and roads and other infrastructure have been severely damaged.
Ward councillor Ricardo Smith of the DA, has requested that the town be declared a disaster area. He asked that a municipal team visit the village to investigate the situation and that a clean-up and reconstruction operation starts in all earnest.
Smith has compiled a report following his own infra-structure inspection in Nieu-Bethesda that he handed to the municipality's director of infrastructure.
Yesterday morning he received feedback that due to the holiday period, the damaged water pumps had to be send to Johannesburg via Port Elizabeth for repairs, and that these have now been fixed and re-installed.
He was told that the municipality is paying attention to the other issues, but that the roads will take time to fix as construction materials are needed that will take time to procure.
Town in crisis
Residents told the Advertiser that the town is in crisis. "The municipality promised we would have water by last Friday, but nothing happened. Only those with boreholes cope. The majority of the population cannot bath and rely on a bucket of water per day provided by water trucks to wash and cook.
The situation is hopeless, we are at the end of our tether," one resident said. Guest houses lost thousands of rand as they were forced to cancel reservations and return deposits.
What makes the situation even more grave is that Covid-19 infections in the town stand at 40 - a high number as the population only numbers 2 500. While the river was coming down some residents could be seen washing there, but it has also dried up.
"We are ratepayers, but not treated as such. We have even started our own infrastructure and safety fund to do some maintenance and to secure our village as our pleas to the municipality fall on deaf ears," another resident said. "Why did the pumps break after the storm? Are they not being maintained? The system is flawed.
"This is a tourist town dependent on tourism revenue. Why would people want to come here if everything is going to the dogs? Nobody does a thing!"
The sewerage system is also taking strain and sewage was seen flowing in the streets.
Residents say that Councillor Smith has been very helpful, but that as a DA councillor he has little power, although he tries to put pressure on the municipality to do its work.
In his report Councillor Smith begged the municipality to pay urgent attention to the storm water draining system.
"This vulnerable, poverty stricken community have to endure all the elements of a lack of a maintained storm water drainage system from the municipality's side and must now either rely on what they can achieve with the little they have, or are capable of doing themselves in the hope that a storm does not come their way any time soon.
"We hope the reader of this document would find the seriousness of the situation to be of an urgent matter and will give speedy attention to this problem as we could possibly face a disaster of humanitarian proportions."
Smith assisted the residents of a house in Naude Street that suffered severe storm damage with bedding and other goods. He requests that the public make donations to assist the people in distress. Roofing material is urgently needed.
To help in any way, please contact Councillor Smith at 060 363 4208.
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