Residents fill up from burst pipe

Tariq Martin made sure not waste the opportunity and started washing their refuse bin.

Woodstock residents made the most of a burst water pipe last week, which saw hundreds of litres of water spilling onto the streets.

With Day Zero on everyone’s minds, many took advantage of the water windfall and rushed to Regent Square to fill up buckets and wash their cars and rubbish bins.

But the two hours it took to stop the gusher had many questioning the City’s commitment to tackling the water crisis.

Sidney Onyango, who was among those filling buckets, said he had made several calls to report the burst.

“If there was a water crisis, they should have immediately responded or at least sent somebody out to cut off the water. It makes you wonder if there really is a crisis, because if the people who are responsible for our water do not care, how do we as residents care?”

Tariq Martin, who was cleaning his rubbish bin when the Tatler spoke to him, said he’d been woken that Friday morning by a loud bang outside his home. Next he had heard the sound of water gushing.

He had called the City immediately and then gone out with a bucket to collect water for his garden, before giving the bin a good clean.

“The council kept saying they will respond shortly, but, after an hour, we were still waiting for them, and we were standing around watching this water going to waste. We might as well put the water to good use.”

The City said its staff usually responded within two hours to logged complaints about pipe bursts, but it attended to hundreds daily and had to prioritise worst of them.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy, said repairs could not always be done immediately, especially if specialised equipment or skills were needed.

“Under the drought disaster declaration, the City has been able to speed up the processes required by law and new recruits have been employed,” she said.

Burst pipes took priority, she said, but repair times could vary according to the time of day, available personnel, the number of service requests needing attention, travel time, location, environmental conditions, pipe diameter and access problems. “Water management is a complex issue, but we have been recognised internationally for our efforts,” she said. “The City is currently developing an integrated information system which will deal with response times and other matters.”

To report pipe bursts, call 086 010 3089 and select option 2; SMS 31373; or email water@capetown.gov.za. It’s important to give a precise location or address.