Collaboration needed to improve water, sanitation in eThekwini

Monday, December 5, 2022

Water and Sanitation (DWS) Minister, Senzo Mchunu, has called for collaboration from different stakeholders to expedite the improvement of water and sanitation infrastructure in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.

This follows a stakeholder engagement meeting with Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma; KwaZulu-Natal COGTA (Member of the Executive Council) MEC, Sihle Zikalala; eThekwini Executive Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda; uMgeni Water and other stakeholders to discuss interventions in water and sanitation challenges faced by the metro.

Mchunu visited KwaZulu-Natal from 2 - 4 December 2022, to meet with various stakeholders, including all three spheres of government, water entities and water service authorities to assess progress on projects currently being undertaken in the province, and to discuss ways to address the state of water and sanitation provision.

During the meeting, Mchunu emphasised that the stakeholders collectively need to find mechanisms to deal with the challenges faced by the city.

“We need to start embracing collaborations and partnerships with the private sector as soon as possible, as a new way of dealing with service delivery, because depending only on fiscus alone, it will take us years to adequately address these problems,” Mchunu said.

Mchunu also recommended the establishment of a strong technical team to enable the municipality to work with other role players to carry out the work going forward.

“The importance of partnership is very crucial because all of us have to work together to enhance the provision of services to the people of eThekwini. The establishment of a technical team is also equally important to assist in identifying sources of money, allocate specific timelines to the projects, and deliver within those timelines.

“The technical team should be service delivery oriented and work with various stakeholders to determine a way forward in addressing issues of infrastructure in the municipality,” the Minister said.

Following the floods in the province, Mchunu said there is a need to strengthen capacity at municipal level to be able to address the concerns of poor infrastructure, and to ensure equitable access to water in eThekwini.

“Funding for infrastructure was also highlighted as the main critical issue during the meeting, and it was recommended that funding and the implementation of infrastructure investment should be prioritised.   

“Funding is an enabler and makes things happen, and as DWS we need to come up with a model that will encourage partnership with the public sector. With the establishment of a technical team, there will also be will also be engagements with Treasury to iron out issues of funding,” Mchunu said.

He said there are masses of people who still do not have access to water in the municipality, and “the narrative must change”.

He said the department is concerned about the state of the infrastructure that has caused pollution in eThekwini rivers.

Kaunda reiterated the call to facilitate funding with various stakeholders and private entities.

He said the municipality will be working with various stakeholders to ensure that funding is secured for infrastructure development in eThekwini.

“We are also planning to accelerate this process by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Water and Sanitation,” Kaunda said.

Increase in non-revenue water remains a challenge

Meanwhile, Zikalala implored the city to prioritise the issue of Non-Revenue Water, which is also the main point of contention in eThekwini Municipality.

According to Zikalala, non-revenue water in the city is high at 57%, with only 40% of water that is purchased billed, and of that, less than 70% is paid.

“A factor contributing to high non-revenue water is [over] 80 000 customers that are illegally connected to the water network as well as leaks,” Zikalala said. –