North West Premier Bushy Maape says a number of steps have been taken to ensure that all residents of the province have access to water, both in the short and longer term.
Addressing the media on Monday, Maape, who was joined by Water and Sanitation Minister David Mahlobo, acknowledged that over the past week, the North West has experienced an escalation in challenges relating to the provision of water in certain areas of the province.
“We recognise the impact that this has had on a number of communities, within the context that water is a basic right which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” Maape said.
Mahlobo visited the province in order to provide leadership from the national department in tackling issues of water provision together with the provincial government and all role players.
Maape reported that a special meeting of the Inter-Departmental Water Task Team, which includes the provincial departments, National Water and Sanitation Department, Water Boards, and all municipalities in the province, was convened on Sunday.
“This task team, which will serve as a War Room on Water, will ensure that the provincial government acts in the spirit of cooperative governance in tackling the issues of water provision in the province,” Maape said.
The Premier said the short term approach is to firstly ensure that there is no community in any part of the province without immediate access to clean water, and in a number of instances, “this will mean the provision of water through water tankering”.
“We do not see this as a long term solution but rather as a short term intervention while the necessary longer term sustainable provision of water is put in place. We recognise that there are a number of problems with water tinkering, and that is a water supply mechanism of last resort,” the Premier said.
He said that a second element of approach is to ensure that the existing infrastructure is maintained and utilised to its full potential, while recognising that in certain areas, new infrastructure programmes are currently being implemented, particularly in the area of bulk water supply.
“We are committed to ensuring that the current infrastructure for water provision is performing optimally and is well maintained and effectively operated.”
Long term sustainability of water provision
While addressing the need for immediate access to water, the Premier said the provincial government is at the same time reviewing plans towards ensuring long term sustainability of water provision.
Mahlobo, together with several stakeholders at Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality, visited Mmabatho Water Treatment Plant on Monday, in order to gain first hand insight into the problems experienced by the facility over the past days.
Maape welcomed water restoration in Unit 3 and Unit 6, and Leopard Park within the Mahikeng area.
The provincial government has also instructed officials in the province, including the national departments, district and local municipalities, and the water board to come up with a plan which ensures sustainability and that water outages will be a thing of the past.
“Some of the areas that were recently affected by inadequate water provision were being serviced by the Sedibeng Water Board, where there was a dispute with the municipalities over the payment of certain amounts. The MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Lena Miga had a session with municipalities, Sedibeng Water, Provincial Treasury and the Department of Water and Sanitation where a resolution was found to this issue,” Maape said.
He said the province will continue to monitor the situation, in order to ensure that both short term interventions and longer term planning are on track.
Source: South African Government News Agency