Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu says government has made progress with its drought relief measures in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to tackle the metro’s water crisis.
Mchunu on Friday briefed the media in Pretoria on the state of water supply in the country.
Nelson Mandela Bay water crisis
The minister said the Department of Water and Sanitation’s interventions in the metro to prevent taps from running dry were starting to yield positive results.
“Since we intervened in the metro around April, there has been progress. The municipality is even improving on compliance in a number of areas and we have been able, up to now, to avert Day Zero.
“We need to up our game, including with the Kouga Local Municipality, and deal with our processes there. But we are happy with the progress,” Mchunu said.
He said there were still a number of interventions required, in the medium to long term, to resolve the metro’s water challenges.
“Whether the draught continues or it doesn’t continue, the fact is that we need stability on water in Nelson Mandela Bay and we can’t fail there, we need to succeed going forward.”
Water supply in Tongaat
In KwaZulu-Natal, Mchunu said his department was assisting with water supply challenges in Tongaat, Durban north.
“We are aware of the anger of the people in Tongaat and we are attending to that. There have been water trucks there, but people are saying they want more than tanked water,” he said.
Angry Tongaat residents took to the streets on Thursday, over the non-supply of water since floods damaged water infrastructure in parts of KZN in April this year.
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EThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda promised water infrastructure in the Tongaat area would be repaired by October.
Mchunu said his department would engage with Tongaat residents on Friday, to listen to their concerns and proposals on how to deal with the water supply challenges.
“It’s a question of communicating effectively with one another and creating an understanding of what is happening out there, and also listening to people in terms of what can be done.”
Mchunu also assured South Africans that government was working to address water reticulation systems in other parts of the country, where communities had complained about access to water.
“We haven’t forgotten one community in the republic, we know about this desperate need for water even in small communities that are desperate for water. We know your situation; we understand it [and] we are working on it,” he said.
Other water challenges
The minister said some of the challenges that hindered water provision in some areas related to capacity issues at water service authorities and delays in completing infrastructure projects like the Giyani Water Project.
The other challenges were procurement issues and the filling of critical posts in the Department of Water and Sanitation.
“There were quite a plethora of projects that had started and at some point, they were not completed. Some were abandoned and some were just slowly moving on, but some were ordinarily on course.
“It has made us realise that as a ministry we are called upon not to sit in high chairs, but get to the dirty work [on the ground] to work very closely with officials. We’ve got to monitor and advice quite closely in order to see progress,” Mchunu said.
He said his department was not taking for granted addressing these capacity challenges.
“Issues of capacity that are taken for granted are real; they’re not to be taken for granted. We have to be realistic about it and admit that it’s a matter that needs to be addressed on an ongoing basis.”
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