*Gqeberha reaching day zero*

Day zero is looming in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape, due to a long drought and poor management and infrastructure. The dam, which farmers rely on and which supplies about 20% of its capacity to Gqeberha, is currently 4.59% full. Once the dam level reaches 3.1%, the water level is below the sluices and cannot be pumped out, TimesLive reported. This could spell disaster for the people of Gqeberha – but it’s not completely new. 

After six years of drought the whole Kouga subsystem that supplies the larger Nelson Mandela Bay metro is down to 13% of its capacity. Water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu is looking for solutions to the water issue in the region, saying that a desalination plant would be ready next year, plus there are plans to repair leaking pipes. 

By then it could be too late: people in the city’s townships will suffer the most, and what Gqeberha needs is quick and efficient intervention. Could this be a job for those overpriced Cuban engineers that the department controversially brought in? We hope so. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 April 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates