Drought-hit Cape Town to set up disaster operations HQ amid water crisis
Hospitals, key economic and industrial areas and densely populated areas with a higher risk of disease would be exempt from a water cut-off, said municipal authorities, who plan to open a disaster operations center on Monday to prepare for a possible closure of taps in a city known internationally for its natural beauty and tourist attractions.
South Africa’s second-biggest city ramped up contingency plans as the water crisis hurt tourism and politicians bickered over alleged failures to offset a looming disaster blamed on explosive population growth over the last two decades and several years of drought that scientists say was possibly exacerbated by man-made global warming.
Security forces would guard 200 water collection points where residents can pick up 25 liters (6.6 gallons) daily if the tap cut-off occurs, authorities said.
Providers of bottled water are being encouraged to increase supply so people have the option of buying water, and water tankers would deliver to homes for the elderly and other care facilities.
Cape Town is run by the opposition Democratic Alliance party, which says the national government of the ruling African National Congress party has failed to deliver water to all municipalities as required by law.
On Sunday, the ANC’s provincial branch said the "Day Zero" warning was an opposition gimmick to drum up a sense of "gloom and doom" and suggested its own solutions, including reductions in production by brewers and soft drink companies.
"We need water, not sugary and alcoholic drinks," the party said.
Meanwhile, tourism is taking a hit.
Agencies have received cancellations from domestic and international travelers, said Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy, according to the African News Agency.
He was asked about the city’s crisis at a news conference.