By Libuseng Nyaka
HARRISMITH – Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu has ordered the establishment of a steering committee to address issues relating to the water and sanitation crisis in Maluti -A-Phofung (MAP) local municipality.
The committee will be made up of, among others, representatives of the municipality, the relevant provincial department, and local individuals who will be readily available on a daily basis.
According to Mchunu, the committee will help strengthen the collection of revenue.
He urged the municipality to finalise plans to disestablish water entity ,Map Water, which spends more funds on salaries instead of improving service delivery.
“However, the disestablishment of the water entity is the prerogative of the municipality as they have their reasons why it was established in the first place.”
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs HOD Mokete Duma blamed lack of capacity and human resources for the appalling situation in Map.
“If we disestablish the entity, we will be able to channel a lot of money towards service delivery and improvement of maintenance.”
MAP Municipal Manager Futhuli Mothamaha disclosed that all process leading to destabilising Map Water is at an advanced stage after he was tasked to do a research and analysis which he did and even submitted a report to the council, even though there are no developments so far.
All this emerged at a meeting held in Harrismith on Monday that the municipality needs R2.4 billion to address issues pertaining to water.
“We are here to plead for understanding that we are operating on limited time. As for those people who claim our concern is motivated by the fact that elections are around the corner, we have a straight forward answer. We may have been appointed only on August 5, this year, but if there are people in Map who do not have access to water, we will not wait until after elections to do our job.”
Mothamaha added that the municipality needs urgent intervention to stop spillage, which is a major cause of loss of water.
“What is critical, we have a challenge of archaic infrastructure. I think our spatial plan did not cater for anticipated development because when you check, Map has grown a lot in the past 20 years. So, the 20 years old infrastructure needs to be refurbished. We need new infrastructure as per our water master plan. On a daily basis we are experiencing spillages and we need urgent intervention. We have wards in Qoqolosing that do not water at all,” Mothamaha explained.
He added that, even if they do procure generators, they would only be a temporary solution.
“Those villages, Monontsha, Qoqolosing and Phahameng can immediately have water. Most of villages were getting water delivered in tanks. But now most of villages get water from hand pumps.
“Significant progress has been made in terms of upgrading power supply despite challenges of illegal connections and vandalism of infrastructure. We have refurbished seven sub-stations. We are currently migrating from conventional metering system to smart metering, starting with Bluegumbosch on Thursday last week.
MEC Dukwana raised concerned over vandalization of and theft infrastructure especially leading to local government elections and that is a need for law enforcers to guard key points.