‘Vandalism’ caused Freedom Park leak


Residents in Porto Street, Freedom Park, were irked that it took the City two days to fix a broken water pipe.

Hundreds of litres of water gushed from the pipe, from Monday to Wednesday last week, after it was pulled from its link to the water metre, leaving at least one house in the street without water. But the City classified the leak as a minor one.

Jane Europa said she came home after work on Monday night and discovered that she had no water because of the broken pipe in the street, so she lodged a complaint with the City.

Lydia Harris, who lives in Porto Street, said the water started gushing from the broken 15mm pipe early on Monday evening.

“We called them immediately,” Ms Harris said. At 9pm workers from the City inspected the site and “put a brick on it”, Ms Harris said.

“Two guys came to look at it but said they can’t fix it. They said someone would come the next day to fix it.”

No one did. “The water was running Tuesday the whole day,” Ms Harris said, so residents called the City again.

By Wednesday morning the water was still running down Porto Street and Ms Europa, who had now been without any water for two days, went to the municipal offices in Beacon Valley to complain.

“She told them that there was a baby in the house and the water was off for two days,” Ms Harris said.

At about 10am on Wednesday municipal workers came to the site again.

“A bakkie came and the guys looked at it,” Ms Harris said, and this time they fixed the leak.

“They fixed it nicely,” Ms Harris said.

When asked why it had taken so long to fix the leak, mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said: “Minor leaks are considered lower priority, and thus are sometimes not fixed immediately because crews are attending to larger leaks or pipe bursts. A major burst can, in a few seconds, let more water run to waste than a minor leak would in a few weeks. Reports of slow response times are often a result of the mistaken assumption that the City has forgotten about the service request. In reality, it is most likely due to more pressing needs elsewhere.”

He explained that the drought and resulting water restrictions have also caused a strain on City resources.

“With the implementation of water restrictions and the increased awareness levels of residents, the City is receiving reports of many minor leaks that residents had neglected to report previously, and we are attending to these literally around the clock.”

“In this case the leak was caused by a 15mm pipe which had been pulled out at the inlet to the water meter. This is most likely due to attempted theft or vandalism of City infrastructure.

“Vandalism and theft of our infrastructure happens on a large scale and is on the increase. Residents and communities need to take ownership of the infrastructure in their community and be diligent in reporting this kind of theft to ensure that criminals are punished and that leaks are minimised.

“The City operates a pipe network nearly 11 000km, to which over 650 000 households are connected. A certain level of water loss is unavoidable when operating a network this size. The City’s efforts to curb this are evident in that we boast the lowest water losses of all large metros in South Africa.”