WUC, you were wrong!

There is something inherently wrong in cutting off water supplies to people without a warning.

Granted, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), the sole water supplier to towns and major villages, is a business.It supplies a product for which people must pay, and cannot be reasonably expected to continue providing that service if there is no payment. In fact, the Corporation currently has serious cash flow problems, and could not pay employees January salaries on time.

That notwithstanding, what WUC did over the weekend in places such as Mogoditshane is wrong. The corporation started turning off supplies to debtors on Friday morning. Those who rushed to the WUC offices on Saturday to pay were told connections could only be done on Monday as the only people on the field were those doing disconnections.

What is disturbing about the WUC shut-offs is the fact that disconnections are done without warning. As a result, there is untold suffering. Sick people are left without running water and running toilets.  They have nothing to drink. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Families cannot bathe and cook. There is an all-round drop in personal and environmental hygiene.


While it has always been the practice for WUC to cut off supplies to people who fail to pay their bills, re-connections were done on the same day, often within a couple of hours of paying. That does not appear to be the case anymore. The Mogoditshane case is a classic example. Why choose the weekend to cut-off supplies when you know you will not be able to do reconnections? Shutting off a delinquent account is punishment enough to the owner of that account and all those who rely on the supplies. But failing to reconnect supplies within the same day, is wrong.  

People may be able to survive without electricity. We have done it as a nation, but you cannot learn how not to drink water, how not to have food or how not to clean a baby that soiled its diapers. We cannot ask our bodies not to want to use the bathroom, and where do people go when there is no water to flush their toilet?

We agree that people who are delinquent on their water bills must pay, but the corporation should find other humane ways of getting people to pay. For example, WUC can use radio, newspapers, television and Facebook to warn customers that it will be shutting off supply to delinquent accounts. This will allow those who have not paid their bill to take necessary precautions – especially where lack of water could spell the death of someone in the family. Otherwise WUC will be guilty of a social crime and violation of the human rights to water and sanitation.

“The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realisation of other human rights”

Today’s thought

“Water is fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a pre-requisite to the realisation of all other human rights.”

 

— The United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, Environment News Service, November 27, 2002

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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