The ‘World Class’ City With No Running Water.

Photo: Pixabay. The lake at the end of the dam, South Africa.
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Johannesburg, South Africa advertises itself as “a world-class African city,” and truly has much to offer,  but a breakdown in basic utilties has angered many of its  5.5 million residents as their water taps frequently run dry and electrical power often goes out for hours.

About half the population of the city has either been without water altogether or suffering water shortages for weeks. With a national election set for May, South Africa’s governing party could be punished for it at the polls.

Although there is officially no drought, it is thought that about 40% of drinkable water is lost through leaky pipes and there are worries that the reservoirs that serve the city will soon fall below a critical level.

Municipal trucks deliver water, but if you can’t get water that way, then the only alternative to is buy water in bottles. A five-liter (1.3-gallon) bottle of water sells for 25 rand ($1.30), and buying water is an  expensive exercise for most people in a country where over 32% of the population is unemployed.

Officials are pleading with residents to conserve what water they can find. World Water Day on Friday was another reminder of the wider need to conserve.

Soweto, once home to anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, has always been a stronghold of the governing African National Congress (ANC) party.

But some citizens say they won’t be voting for them in the coming elections.

“If someone votes for ANC now, that person will be out of her mind or his mind because it’s failing us,” said one women interviewed by NPR.

Numerous recent polls have shown the ANC getting below 50% of the vote in elections on May 29 — for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Analysts say corruption scandals, record unemployment, and the failure to ensure basic services like water and electricity account for the once-storied party’s dwindling popularity.

Water problems are becoming global, with the Panama Canal short of water, which is slowing shipping, and Britain’s largest water utility company close to bankruptcy and discharging raw sewerage into many rivers, including the Thames, the large river that flows past the Houses of Parliament in London.

Sources: NPR,, BBC.
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