Inability to Maintain First World Standards Eats Away at South Africa’sInfrastructure

The South African government’s inability to maintain the First World infrastructure they inherited from the country’s former white rulers has continued to take its toll, this time with the nation’s most famous surfing resort on the Cape Coast, Jeffrey’s Bay, bearing the brunt.
Sewage runs down the main beachfront of Jeffrey's Bay.

According to a local media source, JBay News, the seaside town—one of South Africa’s most-favored holiday resorts—has been turned into a nightmare ghost town after ongoing power outages, raw sewage spilling onto the streets, and a collapse in the local water supply, with the city council having no emergency back-up plan in place to deal with the disaster.

According to JBay News, the town has been experiencing what the black South African government calls “load shedding” in its electricity supply for the past few months. “Load shedding” actually means power cuts, as the government has been unable to maintain and upgrade the nation’s power supply infrastructure and there is now not enough electricity being generated to meet basic needs.

As a result, power is switched off to whole regions at a time in order to supply power to other parts of the country—and these power cut-offs are simply repeated up and down the nation, so that everyone suffers without power “equally.”

According to the JB News Facebook page for December 8, 2014, for example, “For what its [sic] worth: The loadshedding times for Jeffreys Bay are as follows—Stage 1 and Stage 2: 08:00 to 10:30; Stage 3: 08:00 to 10:30, 16:00 to 18:30 and 00:00 to 02:30.”

As inconvenient as they are, the latest disaster to strike Jeffrey’s Bay has not been caused by this national problem, but by a local infrastructure collapse. As JBay News reported:

“Well into the third day without power, sewage spills on the beaches, retailers unable to trade and concerns that certain suburbs will run out of water has ensured a bleak holiday time for Jeffreys Bay.

“A power line that went down on Saturday morning caused a major power failure in JBay over the weekend with millions of rand being lost to retailers as holidaymakers deserted the town and headed to Port Elizabeth for entertainment and shopping on a rainy day.

“The Christmas to New Year period is traditionally one of the busiest trading periods of the year, but the power failure saw shops empty and even closed—a sight never seen before in Jeffreys Bay.

“Retailers and restaurants have reported dismal trading over the past few days, and petrol stations have been running out of diesel as those with generators try to keep their doors open for trading.

“The beaches were badly affected with sewage pouring out onto Kabeljous and Checkers beaches due to pump stations not functioning. This has spread to Aston Bay where sewage is spewing from the Cormorant Street pump station.

“There are concerns that the upper parts of Wavecrest that are supplied by boreholes will run out of water as no pumping is happening while the power is down.

“According to the Kouga Municipality, there are problems with municipal and Eskom lines at Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp.”
Sewage runs into the sea at the Boneyards car park, Jeffrey's Bay.

The reaction from the holidaying public was predictable. Just some of the reactions posted in the JBay News report included:

Danie Erasmus, December 29, 2014 at 11:21 a.m.

EISH, I’m sorry …as (a Pretoria resident) AND Jbay homeowner and ratepayer I believe the Kouga management needs to respond…but then their ignorance, incompetence and lack of accountability and planning is so well established that they don’t look further than the bottomless pit for bonuses and employment benefits !

Now’s the time to go and suck the cesspit spill on the beach

Anton, December 29, 2014 at 11:54 a.m.

So the wind farm is just for show! Where are the backup systems in the event of a disaster. Oh wait—there is no disaster recovery systems in place. So while everyone’s food spoils in the freezers, and the sewerage pollutes the shores and the tourists leave —where can I send the bill for my losses when they said it would take a few hours. Now there is no stock of generators and our losses are increasing by the hour. Incompetence should be a criminal offence just like copper cable theft. Utterly disappointed at service delivery and you still get a fat cheque and bonus! Shame on you!

Johann Riekert, December 29, 2014 at 1:04 p.m. (translated from the Afrikaans):

Our family has packed up and gone. Better to sit at home without power in Roodepoort (*) and swim in a clean swimming pool than get sick on this sewer beach. A total of eight families on this street have packed up and gone. The absolutely poor and unprofessional manner in which the Kouga municipality acted, the obvious degeneration of the infrastructure, the bad roads and shocking condition of the water etc. have all finally decided us to go somewhere else on vacation. This is the third December vacation what we have experiences this crisis.

(* Roodepoort, part of greater Johannesburg. An indication that the “load shedding” problem is countrywide).

Irill Humphrey van Niekerk, December 29, 2014 at 2:21 p.m.

We have been living in Jeffrey’s Bay now for 19 years….when we came here everything still worked, except for muddy water, now and again….it is now an everyday occurrence. The pot holes just get bigger and bigger, on the odd occasion they fill them up with ground, only to be ridden out again. Way back in time we had a power surge and lost some of our small electrical equipment….now we have the problem of no electricity, that sucks, as we have all paid dearly for those commodities. Luckily we live up on the hill so we do not experience the sewage problems that are happening…. All these problems happen when MAINTENANCE is not done correctly OR not done at all…
Boei Koerat, mayor of Jeffrey's Bay.

Adriaan Roscher, December 29, 2014 at 3:26 p.m.

It is because incompetent and arrogant individuals were on the election lists of the ANC and EFF (and also other smaller parties). As predicted they unfortunately were elected to govern Kouga and Jeffreys Bay by an electorate that does not pay taxes and do not know how to run a business.

Francois, December 29, 2014 at 3:32 p.m.

The sewage started running out onto Checkers beach on Thursday morning, even before any power interruptions. Disgusting.

Spider, December 29, 2014 at 5:09 p.m.

Probably also apartheid’s fault! Pathetic!