Department intervenes to accelerate Giyani water supply

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Department of Water and Sanitation has committed to work with the Mopani District Municipality and Lepelle Northern Water to fast-track the completion of the Giyani water supply scheme.

This follows a two-day oversight visit to the region by the Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Portfolio Committee to assess the efficacy of water and sanitation infrastructure, and human settlement development projects in Giyani and Polokwane.

During the visit this week, committee members expressed their disappointment at the slow progress made towards the completion of the water scheme.

They found it unacceptable that, despite a huge financial investment in the scheme, the villagers did not receive reliable potable water in their households.

The committee was also not happy that while bulk infrastructure was being developed by Lepelle Northern Water, the Mopani District Municipality failed to develop the requisite reticulation infrastructure to pump water from reservoirs to the villagers.

In light of this, the committee has recommended that the department work closely with the municipality and Lepelle Northern Water to fast-track the delivery of water to the affected communities of Giyani.

The committee has further recommended that the three parties immediately engage communities and their traditional leaders, and inform them about developments around the scheme.

It emphasised that no decisions should be imposed on the communities and their leaders without consulting them.

The Department’s Acting Deputy Director-General for Infrastructure, Leonardo Manus and department’s Provincial Head, Lucy Kobe, who accompanied the committee members during the site visits, assured the committee that the department would intervene to step up the work of supplying water to the communities.

“We welcome the findings and recommendations of the portfolio committee, and wish to assure them that we will work closely with Mopani and Lepelle to end the water woes of the people of Giyani,” said Manus.

Manus and Kobe also committed the department to work closely with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to help recover around R2.2 billion from LTE Consulting Engineers following allegations of corruption.

Progress in dealing with Vaal River pollution 

Meanwhile, the committee said it is content that there is reasonable progress being made by the Vaal River System Intervention team in resolving the pollution problem.

Committee chairperson Machwene Semenya said that while the scale of the problem is enormous, “steady improvements are visible on the system”.

Despite the improvement, Semenya said the committee is of the view that the broader solution to the problem is twofold. This includes improving the legislative framework governing water infrastructure, and dealing with operational and maintenance backlogs of the entire system.

“The source of pollution are municipalities and currently, directives by the department to these municipalities are not working, hence the need to reconsider the licensing of municipalities that are failing to run waste water treatment plants…

“The deterioration of infrastructure due to lack of maintenance, as well as lack of adequate skills to run waste water treatment plants in municipalities, remains a concern. 

“The justification of lack of skills can no longer be accepted as rational in an environment where the health of our people is of great concern… there must be a concerted effort to increase the skills pool… [so] municipalities can… run these waste water treatment plants effectively,” Semenya said. –