Graaff-Reinet water project stalled as theft throws spanner in the works

The Gift of the Givers drilling rig was tampered with and equipment stolen only hours after arriving in Graaff-Reinet.
The Gift of the Givers drilling rig was tampered with and equipment stolen only hours after arriving in Graaff-Reinet.
Image: Supplied

The water-drilling project in Graaff-Reinet has stalled after equipment was stolen and the drilling rig tampered with during the night.

This comes after the Gift of the Givers team arrived in the drought-stricken town at midday on Tuesday.

Disaster relief group Gift of the Givers had arrived in the drought-stricken area to assist with water-relief efforts.

Drilling operations were meant to commence at 7am with the hope of water being located by midday.

Gift of the Givers project manager Ali Sablay said that the project has since stalled while they scramble to locate specialist equipment to get the rig running.

Gift of the Givers drilling rig
Gift of the Givers drilling rig
Image: Supplied

“Members of the team arrived at the site at about 7am when they discovered that some of our tools had been stolen. The cables to the drilling rig have also been tampered with in what appears to be an attempt to also strip it.

"What we can see missing is batteries, tools and diesel needed for the drilling to commence. The one spanner stolen is a specialist spanner that we now need to source from either Port Elizabeth or East London,” he said.

“The community is up in arms and are searching for the culprits. They are furious that they cannot get water due to some criminal elements.”

Sablay said that the tools and rigs were parked at the Spandau Public School in Bree Street – where they were going to drill on Wednesday morning.

“The reason we chose the school is because it is in the heart of the community and our maps show that water should be there. If we succeed in getting water, it means that the entire community could benefit and collect water as they needed,” he said.

“It is  unfortunate that this has happened but we are working to try source the spanner and other items. We are hoping to proceed by this afternoon.”

This comes after hundreds of residents lined the town’s streets, cheering and clapping as a convoy of trucks carrying bottled water and drilling equipment snaked through the town on Tuesday morning.

By midday, specialist hydrologist Dr Gideon Groenewald had already started to drill for water.

Gift of the Givers’ arrival came as the Beyers Naude Local Municipality warned that overuse of boreholes and the strain it could place on the underground water supply must be monitored.

According to both the municipality and Gift of the Givers, groundwater exploration efforts are under way in an attempt to find water.

Sablay said that efforts to begin  drilling by afternoon would be dependent on if they could source the needed equipment.

Police spokesperson Captain Bradley Rawlinson said that the police were at the scene and waiting for a docket to be opened. “We are aware of the station and are liaising with the organisers,” he said.

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