Scholars at a Wits resident are complaining about the upkeep of their building
The All-Residence Sub Council (ARSC) — a representative body for all Wits residences — has called for the Property Infrastructure and Management Division (PIMD) — which manages campus residences and the whole university — to act swiftly in fixing maintenance issues at Wits Junction – one of the most expensive residences on campus.
Its been three months since Junction residents have been complaining about the lack of hot water, which is caused by the water heating system that is not working correctly, forcing students to take cold showers. Students have also complained about Wi-Fi connectivity issues, which have been compounded by the rolling blackouts.
Students have been complaining about these issues since the first term of 2023, but their laments have fallen on deaf ears. Thembinkosi Dhlamini a third-year electrical engineering student at Wits Junction said, “there’s usually no water from 06:00 to 07:30 am every day. I have reported it to the maintenance, but nothing has changed till today”.
The ARSC has expressed their dissatisfaction with PIMD’s lack of urgency in addressing these issues that students find themselves in, even after they repeatedly promised to bring results, but have not done so till today.
On May 3, at 18:00, a meeting was held with residents and Wits information and communication technologies desk, which is in charge of the Wi-Fi and PIMD were expected to attend to give students clarity and an action plan of solving these maintenance issues. However, they did not attend the meeting even after confirming attendance.
At the meeting, the director of campus housing and residence life Basil Mugwenya said that he will also investigate the issues raised by students himself and engage with the dean of residences regarding maintenance in residences. He said he will then hold a meeting with the service providers and they will work to resolve the issues.
However, Kabo Mosiane, ARSC chairperson told Wits Vuvuzela that they are awaiting communication regarding the date that the meeting will be held and will push for it to happen.
Wits Vuvuzela reached out to PIMD for comment, however, they did not respond. On the day of publishing, the issues were still not fixed.
FEATURED IMAGE: The PIMD building on the East Campus of Wits University. Photo: Lesedi Maako
Students living at Wits University’s most expensive residence have entered day five of a waterless existence.
Over 400 students have been affected by the water shortage at Wits Junction, a student residence in Parktown. They have now been urged to use water sparingly due to a reliance on reserves.
The students living at the residence were busy with vacation work needed for their qualifications. They have been unable to cook, shower or drink water from their taps. Some of these hardships were alleviated on Sunday, July 17, 2022 when the dean of student affairs, Jerome September offered alternative accommodation and access to the Highfield dining hall.
“I was told that the issue had been resolved but because, for a number of days, we had been on the reserve system, that the reservoirs are empty, and it takes time for those to fill up,” September said to the frustrated students.
At the meeting on Sunday, September suggested that students be moved to vacant residences, which was rejected outright, with students demanding to be accommodated in hotels instead. While some students fetched meals from the dining hall at their convenience, others awaited placement at the alternative accommodation, placements which have yet to materialise for many.
Additional demands from the students included the removal of water tanks and mobile toilets that had been brought onto the premises for temporary relief. Hygiene, particularly for women, was cited as a reason for the rejection of the mobile toilets.
A resident who requested to remain anonymous said they were not receiving value for their money at the Parktown residence, and communication throughout the crisis had not been satisfactory.
“I’m frustrated as a student because I’m paying R105 000 per year to live in this fancy res… We were not told about the water shortages so we couldn’t prepare in advance,” she said.
She said that she is expected to write her medical exams despite the crisis.
As the students grew agitated, they demanded answers to what could’ve gone wrong with the water supply. Dumisani Ngiba from the Wits Property Infrastructure and Management Division (PIMD) admitted to having failed to put contingency plans in place.
Ngiba said “We don’t have service providers with such equipment” to manually fill the reservoirs after which he said the reservoir system only allows input from the municipality.
September had promised to have the matter resolved within 48 hours which lapsed on Tuesday, July 19. Technicians from Joburg water were yet to fix a valve identified to have been preventing water flow to the residence.
FEATURED IMAGE: Students queuing to fill their containers with water from a water tank after three days without water. Photo: Keamogetswe Matlala
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