After enduring years of water shortages and infrastructure failures, residents of Aviary Hill, Newcastle, can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The Newcastle Municipality has officially completed the first phase of a large-scale pipe replacement project aimed at addressing the age-old water problems in the area.
In February 2022, Newcastillian News highlighted the plight of Aviary Hill residents who faced prolonged periods without water due to frequent burst pipes caused by deteriorating infrastructure. The old asbestos cement pipes, having exceeded their design lifespan, were no longer able to withstand the necessary water pressure for efficient distribution.
Recognising the urgent need to resolve the issue, the Newcastle Municipality pledged to take action. The completion of the first phase of the pipe replacement project marks a significant milestone in fulfilling this commitment.
On Monday, 12 June 2023, Newcastle Municipality’s Mayor, Cllr Xolani Dube, Deputy Mayor Musa Thwala, and Newcastle Municipal Speaker, Cllr Thengi Zulu, gathered at the intersection of Drakensberg and Victoria Roads to announce the successful completion of the initial phase. The project involved replacing 10.3km of aging asbestos cement pipes with more robust UPVC pipes and installing pressure reducing valves (PRVs) to alleviate water issues.
Commencing on 1 April 2022, the project was initially slated for completion by 31 August 2022.
However, unforeseen challenges led to a delay, and the project, costing R9,759,192.35, was finalised at the end of April 2023.
Expressing his satisfaction with the outcome, Cllr Thwala, also Chairperson for the Technical Services Portfolio, acknowledged the significant impact the water reticulation problem had on residents. He emphasised the importance of delivering essential services to the community, considering their substantial contributions to the Newcastle Municipality.
Mayor Dube, while relieved that progress had been made in resolving the water reticulation issue, acknowledged that there was still much work to be done. Addressing water leaks and sewer spillages remained a top priority for the municipality, as they not only affected the community but also resulted in significant water wastage costs, amounting to nearly R4 million.
Highlighting the unacceptable 47-year span without pipe replacements, Mayor Dube assured the community that the municipality would diligently work to rectify the situation and restore the area’s infrastructure, despite financial constraints.
He stressed the importance of executing the project thoroughly and pledged to conduct regular unannounced site visits to ensure its efficient implementation.
After the symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony at the corner of Drakensberg and Victoria Roads, marking the dawn of a new era in Aviary Hill, the municipal delegation proceeded to Nagtegaal Street for the soil turning ceremony, officially launching the second phase of the pipe replacement project. This phase will encompass the replacement of 12.3km of the aging asbestos cement pipes with UPVC pipes, further alleviating the long-standing water issues in Aviary Hill.
Valued at just over R12 million, the project will be funded through the Municipal Infrastructure Grant, with an expected completion date of 15 February 2024.
Deputy Mayor Thwala stressed the need to meet this deadline to avoid penalties or the loss of grants. Upon the completion of this phase, Cllr Thwala expressed confidence that water leaks would be eliminated, significantly benefiting Aviary Hill and parts of Lennoxton.
Mayor Dube reiterated his commitment to the project’s success and declared his accountability as the leader of the municipality. He emphasised the municipality’s responsibility to prioritise service delivery, urging councillors present at the event, to abandon any tendencies of complacency.
With the Newcastle Municipality’s proactive approach to addressing water reticulation issues, residents are encouraged to share their thoughts and perspectives in the comment section below.