The minister of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, last week announced the centralisation of water distribution through a Johannesburg-based command centre for the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown. According to the minister, all water has been put under one command centre at Rand Water in Johannesburg, from where all commands concerning water will stem.

Temporary emergency measure

Agri SA has confirmed that the appointment of Rand Water as implementation agent concerning the distribution of water is a temporary emergency measure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic for as long as the state of disaster persists.

According to the organisation, irrigation boards — in the main, farmers and individuals who own water rights — may be issued with directives to make water available to the government. The department will be keeping a record of all the costs involved and irrigation boards will be able to claim back these costs.

“This situation is being dealt with by the minister and her team with the utmost diligence and professionalism. We applaud her for her leadership in this crisis. We urge our members to ensure that any supply of water is dealt with in close collaboration by the department,”says Janse Rabie, head of Agri SA’s Natural Resources Centre of Excellence.

Water helpline for COVID-19 crisis

Several farming areas nationwide have been without water for months or even years. Government is now caught in a rush to ensure safe water supply, given the need for around-the-clock hygiene practices to avert a COVID-19 crisis.

Government has urged communities in areas affected by water shortages to call 0800 200 200. – Press release, Agri SA