Department to take over water services in uMkhanyakude

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has announced that the department intends to take over the water and sanitation administration in uMkhanyakude District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.

Joined by Deputy Minister David Mahlobo, Mchunu returned to the province on Monday to lead the provincial working sessions and engage with various districts and stakeholders within the water sector, following an earlier ministerial working session in the province.

uMkhanyakude becomes the second municipality to have its services placed under the department’s guidance after the Minister made the decision to remove such powers in Tshwane, following recommendations by the South African Human Rights Commission.

uMhlathuze Water Board made a presentation that painted a bleak picture of the district’s services, including an unstable and dysfunctional system that needs a complete overhaul.

The municipality is already under administration.

In his address, Mchunu acknowledged that some work has been done, but said the slow pace in progress meant there was nothing to show for it, compared to the rise in demand.

“I am uncomfortable with the report given. What is clear is that the municipality does not have the stability or capacity to carry out water related tasks. We have to act, and act now,” Mchunu said.

He said the decision to have the department run water and sanitation services in the district is so that the municipality can get its affairs in order.

“We will meet each other halfway. You ensure stability in your office, while we make sure people get water. Otherwise, people will be waiting to get their constitutional right while you fix things.

“Let’s work together to ensure people have water. This will give you time to find solutions to the problems you are facing,” Mchunu said while addressing municipal officials.

Mchunu said government cannot afford to let down the people of uMkhanyakude anymore, emphasising that a lot of work needs to be done at a very quick pace, as people have waited long enough.

“These people have been patient. We must make them feel like they are part of South Africa,” the Minister said.

He said Mhlathuze Water Board will be an implementing agency in the district for the period, and the paperwork to formally appoint the water board – as the implementing agent – will be done within the next few days.

Sinthumule Kutama Bulk Water Supply project

Meanwhile, Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister Dikeledi Magadzi has strongly condemned the hold-up which resulted in hindrances towards the completion of Sinthumule Kutama Bulk Water Supply project in Limpopo.

Magadzi visited the bulk water supply project under Vhembe District Municipality on Monday, where she evaluated the project’s progress.

The bulk water supply project was initiated to resolve water shortages in approximately 39 villages in Sinthumule Kutama area under Makhado Local Municipality.

The project scope includes the construction of a 16.7 km gravity pipeline from Valdesia Pump station, which currently stands at 98%; the construction of a 7.5 mega-litre reservoir, which is at 90% completion, and the raising of a 13.6 km rising main pipeline to Mowkop reservoir in Makhado, which is at 91% completion.

The construction of the project commenced in October 2014, with an initial completion date of November 2017. However, due to operational challenges, the completion of the project was delayed, and it is expected to be completed in April 2022.

Magadzi stressed the need to move with speed to ensure the completion of the project.

She reiterated a warning to workers on site that she expects to see considerable improvements when she comes back to visit the area unannounced.

“This is long overdue [and] our wish is that by June 2022, the majority of our villages should be getting water. I am happy about the progress made so far, but we can do better.

“Let us work faster and smarter so that we can fulfil the promise we made to our people, which is ensuring adequate water supply,’’ the Deputy Minister said.

Source: South African Government News Agency