Police and military to help at water sites if Cape Town turns taps off

Police and military to help at water sites if Cape Town turns taps off

South Africa’s police and military will help secure water collection sites in drought-stricken Cape Town if authorities must turn off most taps on what they call Day Zero, a date currently projected to fall in the first half of April, the city said.

Hospitals, key economic and industrial areas and densely populated areas with a higher risk of disease would be exempt from a water cut-off, said municipal authorities, who plan to open a disaster operations centre on Monday to prepare for a possible closure of taps in a city known internationally for its natural beauty and tourist attractions.

South Africa’s second-biggest city ramped up contingency plans as the water crisis hurt tourism and politicians bickered over alleged failures to offset a looming disaster blamed on explosive population growth over the last two decades and several years of drought that scientists say was possibly exacerbated by man-made global warming.

Cape Town’s roughly four million residents can avoid Day Zero, slated for April 12, by each using no more than 50 litres (13.2 gallons) daily until adequate rainfall fills up depleted reservoirs and additional supply from aquifers, desalination and recycling schemes is activated, according to the city.

Police and military to help at water sites if Cape Town turns taps off

Security forces would guard 200 water collection points where residents can pick up 25 litres (6.6 gallons) daily if the tap cut-off occurs, authorities said. Providers of bottled water are being encouraged to increase supply so people have the option of buying water, and water tankers would deliver to homes for the elderly and other care facilities.

"This crisis will demand a whole of society approach, where we all pull together to get through this," the city said on Sunday in a statement that acknowledged "panic" among residents fretting over the possible difficulties ahead.

This weekend, Cape Town’s water and sanitation department said it was investigating reports that some retailers might be illegally selling municipal tap water after people were seen lining up with empty bottles at two shopping centres. Some residents are supplementing water supply by collecting from natural springs in the city.

Cape Town is run by the opposition Democratic Alliance party, which says the national government of the ruling African National Congress party has failed to deliver water to all municipalities as required by law. On Sunday, the ANC’s provincial branch said the Day Zero warning was an opposition gimmick to drum up a sense of "gloom and doom" and suggested its own solutions, including reductions in production by brewers and soft drink companies.

"We need water, not sugary and alcoholic drinks," the party said.

Meanwhile, tourism is taking a hit. Agencies have received cancellations from domestic and international travellers, said Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy, according to the African News Agency. He did not provide data on cancellations.

One visitor to Cape Town this weekend was Olympic great Usain Bolt, who attended a horse racing event. He was asked about the city’s crisis at a news conference.

"Don’t waste water," the Jamaican said. In the Caribbean, he said, "we have this issue sometimes."

More in this Section

Extinction Rebellion co-founder sorry for ‘crass words’ about HolocaustExtinction Rebellion co-founder sorry for ‘crass words’ about Holocaust

Corbyn declares war on rich and powerful with ‘manifesto of hope’Corbyn declares war on rich and powerful with ‘manifesto of hope’

Ukraine probes pursued at direction of Donald Trump, impeachment inquiry toldUkraine probes pursued at direction of Donald Trump, impeachment inquiry told

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu charged with fraud and briberyIsraeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu charged with fraud and bribery


Lifestyle

The early morning routine is always the same. I get up, have a quick breakfast before helping my brother, who I live with, get his kids ready for school.Working Life with Dr Muslim Moula Buksh

You might be your parents’ favourite, but that doesn’t mean they actually have any baby pictures of you.9 things all youngest children know to be true

Now’s the time to give the stars of your garden some pampering.Now’s the time to give the stars of your garden some pampering

Low blood pressure, or hypotension, can occur for a few reasons.Natural health: I'm seven months pregnant and have low blood pressure; I have psorasis due to work pressure

More From The Irish Examiner