Durban – The KwaZulu-Natal legislature has allocated more than R100 million to investigate the government’s failure to provide clean water to its citizens.
This is according to provincial finance portfolio committee chairperson Sipho Nkosi, who was part of the provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) portfolio committee who visited drought-stricken areas of Umkhanyakude in northern KwaZulu-Natal this week where they witnessed the lack of water delivery to its residents.
Nkosi said as a result of being deprived of water, residents of Umkhanyakude, which is made up of uMhlabuyalingana, Jozini, Big Five False Bay, Hlabisa and Mtubatuba municipalities, had engaged in waves of violent protests.
“I believe that the solution would be found as we have amended the budget as the provincial government to put in R100.6 million to Cogta so that it would investigate where the problem is.
“Umkhanyakude would be allocated R10 million out of that R100million, which would also go to all districts,” said Nkosi.
“We have to zoom in as government in order to solve that problem,” he said.
He lashed out at the ANC-led Umkhanyakude for failing to provide its citizens with clean water, which is said to be in abundance at the local Pongolapoort Dam.
Nkosi said while the government had made available more than 40million megalitres per day from Pongolapoort Dam, “but they (the district) are only spending 18m (megalitres) to our people on a daily basis”.
“The problem is the poor planning within the district. As a result, people don’t get water because the reticulation is failing.
“In terms of what Nomvula Monkonyane (former water and sanitation minister) did during the drought period there should be no one in Umkhanyakude who still don’t have access to clean water in Umkhanyakude,” said Nkosi.
He said the MPLs found that many households were more than 1km from the nearest taps.
“They (the district) were supposed to have brought the pipes at least closest to the households by 200m but it is not happening to the majority of our people,” he said.
He said instead of collecting water from Pongolapoort Dam, which had clean water, for some unknown reasons, the district uses an almost dry Mfolozi River as its water source.
“The Pongolapoort Dam alone has got capacity to deliver water to all households in that district, but most unfortunately the problem is with the reticulation.
“That dam produces 40million megalitres, and if that 40million could be reticulated it would cover the whole district,” he said.
Umkhanyakude mayor Solomon Mkhombo said the district had a challenge in laying a network of pipes for water reticulation.
“We have got sufficient purified water at our regional bulk water treatment plant, but we need to roll out a programme of extending reticulation to all corners through the length and breadth of the district,” he said.
He said even the already existing network of pipes was mostly no longer in good condition.
He said the fund for water projects remained a challenge in the district that get an annual budget of R214m.
“Water is a priority but you need certain specific expertise and money. When you go to procurement you have to follow a particular process. Therefore it takes time,” he said.