Chaos at the spring

A congested Kildare Road in Newlands has been blocked off by the Citys Traffic Services to properly manage and monitor the spring, which has become popular with Day Zero looming.

Those drawing water from Springs Way off Kildare Road in Newlands will now be able to collect only 25 litres at a time.

This is one of the new restrictions the City of Cape Town has imposed on the spring in response to growing congestion and flaring tempers there in recent weeks, as Cape Town’s water crisis has deepened.

Anwar Filander, from Mowbray, said he had collected water at the spring for several years.

There were days I pulled up and could just load water and move on, and as much as I like,” he said. “Now it’s chaos.”
At the weekend, Mr Filander witnessed a blow out between two men over a spot in the queue in Springs Way.

“The reality of it all is settling in very fast. People are really desperate to get their hands on water. What people don’t seem to realise is that we are all in this together, but there are a handful of people who operate at the springs as if their forefathers owned them.”

Mr Filander collects just over 100 litres a day, at different times, using two 20-litre containers.

Retired couple Adam and Jessica Langenhoven, of Salt River, say the situation at the spring is “disgusting” and “appalling”.

“I saw two people throwing water at each other,” said Mr Langenhoven. “We are here to live off this precious commodity, and they are using the very reason why we are here to humiliate each other – like two kids in a classroom fighting over a pencil.”

The couple visit the spring three times a day. It’s hard work lugging the water, they say, but they have little choice.

“There are people who do not want to wait in a queue or want to load more than what they should,” said Ms Langenhoven.

“The water is free, but you would swear they are paying for it. I guess all the talk of Day Zero is getting to people’s heads and something better be done before somebody gets hurt.”

Earlier this week, the police arrested a person after a fight broke out at the spring.

Nearby residents and the adjacent old age home have also been adversely affected.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services, said there had been mounting congestion at the spring as the water crisis had intensified.

“The congestion and noise from cars and persons visiting the site at all hours of the day and night is causing many complaints from the surrounding community and often Kildare Road and Springs Way, which are simply not wide enough to handle the volume of vehicles trying to access the springs, are blocked,” Mr Smith said.

The City has now taken several measures to better manage the site:

Springs Way will be managed 24 hours a day by City enforcement departments.

Traffic services will be on-site daily to manage congestion and parking and to assist vehicles entering and exiting Springs Way.

The site will be accessible to vehicles between 7am and 10pm.

A venue operations centre will be established and personnel will be posted at the site 24 hours a day to ensure it is managed optimally and that people are safe.

Each person will be able to take only 25 litres at time to keep the queue moving. They can then rejoin the queue to fill more containers if they want.

“We want to be clear that limits are not being set on the amount of water that people collect. We are simply trying to manage the queueing and congestion better and to ensure fair access to all,” Mr Smith said.

Also because of traffic congestion, the City plans to soon reroute the water from the Kildare spring to the Newlands swimming pool site 700m down the road, where there is more parking.

“This arrangement will also reduce the impact on the old age home. This location is far easier to access and has ample parking, and will allow for easier management as well as faster and more convenient access for all people collecting water,” Mr Smith said.