Spiraling theft and destruction of water infrastructure has reached a level that is disrupting water supply and waste water services to towns and villages, says the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC).
The parastatal’s Public Relations Officer, Matida Mmipi, confirmed that the situation is becoming prevalent country wide, with the WUC facing difficulties in providing uninterrupted services.
In the latest recorded case, villages surrounding Mmadinare were denied access to water. This was after a pipeline, which transports water from Letsibogo dam, was damaged with air valves to the tune of approximately P300 000 stolen.
Mmipi said the WUC is also struggling to restore water supply in the country due to, among other factors, the growing trend in which people damage water infrastructure and then start to freely draw water for agricultural purposes.
“Some members of the public have a tendency of breaking dedicated water mains or infrastructure to water their livestock and browse water to farming areas. This affects the water supply as restoration efforts often take time,” she said. “Vandalism of WUC infrastructure is also prevalent in towns and villages where manhole covers and water meters are stolen. These, WUC suspects, are stolen for their scrap value and sold to some scrap yard dealers.”
Hard hit areas include villages in the North East, Radisele, villages surrounding Mochudi, Serowe and Molepolole. Vandalism and theft in these areas can deny the public access to portable water for days, she said.
In some cases, the corporation found that remote installations such as boreholes are damaged with engines, fuel and other equipment stolen. She said the police had failed to arrest the criminals because the incidents came to the corporation’s attention very late.
Meanwhile, the corporation says that if caught, people who damaged and stole the properties will face charges. Given the rising incidents, the WUC continues to educate the public on the effects of vandalising water infrastructure.
“It also educates them on the dangers they expose themselves to in vandalising this infrastructure as some water pipes are highly pressurized and tampering with them may result in serious injuries to those involved,” Mmipi warned.