School’s long battle for water

IT’S been three years since Ndlelayabasha Primary School in Willowfontein has had running water, due to ongoing water problems that’s been affecting the community in the Willowfontein area.

Since 2016, the school has relied on municipal water tanker trucks, which have supplied the area.

However, the community sometimes refuses to allow the school access to the water tankers, claiming that the water is intended for the community and not for the school.

Speaking to Echo, school principal Sbusiso Ntuli said that at times they are forced to send children home early if they don’t get water from the water tanks as it made it ‘very difficult’ for the school to function without water.

“Since I started at this school in 2016, we have been suffering with this problem.

“What makes the situation worse is that we have 455 children and we make use of flushable toilets. There’s
also a feeding scheme, which all the children benefit from, that has to be put on hold if there is no water.

“We now have to call the municipality to provide additional water tanks to supply us with water, however that water lasts not longer than a day or two. The water tankers fill the three tanks which we have with water but still, that supply is not enough for the school to function properly on a daily basis,” he said.

Ntuli said he has tried numerous times to engage with the municipality and the local councillor to try and find a solution but nothing has been done yet. He said, when he first came to the school and realised that there was a water issue, he engaged with the municipality who promised to help.

“When I checked with them [municipality] again, they told me the pipes that supply us with water are old and they will be replaced with new ones.”

He said that, for the past two years, the school has been paying the municipality for water services however this year he made the decision to stop paying as they are not actually supplying water.

“I thought we were paying for the water tanks until we learnt that the water tanks were not even for us. They were meant to supply water to the Vulindlela community and were only asked to supply us with water as a favour.

“We need help very urgently because we can not continue like this. The education of the children is being affected and we do not want that.

“We want everything to go back to normal. No one can survive without water,” he said.

Ndlelayabasha is not the only school that is affected by this problem, Silwanetshe Primary School also suffers from water troubles.

Ward councillor Thabiso Molefe was not available for a comment.

The Department of Education spokesperson, Sicelo Khuzwayo, did not respond to the questions sent to him via email and calls to his cellphone went unanswered..