Human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Wednesday appealed to communities to protect water infrastructure provided to them during the coronavirus lockdown, and to wash their hands regularly. 

“We have made some strides to provide water to a number of distressed areas. However, the fact that we are yet to reach some of our people is a cause for concern. I have instructed my officials to work around the clock to ensure everyone has water,” said Sisulu. 

“While you are washing your hands, keep in mind that South Africa is a water scarce country, so that you avoid water wastage. Let us save this precious water resource we have currently. We encourage people to inculcate the culture of washing their hands regularly, especially during critical times, after using a toilet and before preparing food.” 

Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)

The department on Wednesday said the provision of water tanks and tankers (trucks) was moving swiftly as per the directive issued by Sisulu last month. 

In her directive, Sisulu instructed all provinces and water entities to ensure that all communities, especially rural areas and informal settlements, be provided with reliable water as a matter of urgency.  

“Subsequently, Rand Water was appointed to coordinate all the water entities and a national command centre was established at Rand Water to ensure that the minister’s directive is implemented effectively,” the department said in a statement. 

To date, a total of 10 994 water tanks and 1 001 water tankers have been delivered to various communities across the country.  

The department said that when president Cyril Ramaphosa toured the national command centre on Tuesday, he “expressed his satisfaction with the manner in which the department has swiftly moved in rolling out water tanks and tankers across the country”.

South Africa is going through a 21-day national lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. The country had at least 1,749 confirmed infections and total deaths are now at 13. 

The lockdown is accompanied by a string of regulations that limit the movement of citizens, who are expected to stay at home unless they are shopping for food, seeking medical help or supplies, banking, buying petrol, collecting social grants, or performing essential services.