Local communication needs to be improved, Molewa

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pretoria – Water and Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, says there is room for improvement with regard to communication between government and local communities.

She said getting the message to communities needs to be improved and reinforced by the department, working with local councillors.

In an interview with 702 Talk Radio on Monday morning, the minister explained that if an area is expected to receive erratic water service, they should get informed about the problem and be told about the hours that the water will be off and urge the public to fill up their tanks.

She said this would ensure the current problem is reduced.

Two week ago, residents at Mothutlung, Damonsville and Lethlabile took part in service-delivery protests because their water had been cut for two weeks. The supply had also been erratic since October.

Molewa said while water has since been restored in Mothutlung and Damonsville, some challenges remained at Centreville in Lethlabile and some parts of Madidi area, outside Lethlabile, where the reservoir is not quite filled up due to the small size of infrastructure currently being used.

The local municipality was forced to switch the supply on and off and fill up reservoirs.

She assured people that the department had started looking for additional boreholes in the Madidi area, so that they can augment the water supply. Also, R300 million has been allocated to expand water treatment plants to pump more water.

Molewa acknowledged that while the country had infrastructure in place, resources or services delivered, especially in small towns and rural communities, the level of infrastructure remained a challenge.

“The challenge is the level of infrastructure. The situational analysis tells us that in many areas there are leakages of water - sometimes due to maintenance, old infrastructure and also some illegal connections in some areas,” she said.

Molewa said the department was embarking on a programme to resolve small issues like boreholes supplying water to the communities, which were not in working condition.

She said the challenges of ageing infrastructure, water leakages and the fact that South Africa is not a well-resourced water country, were being dealt with, and that government had not been folding its arms.

“We have pumped over R12 billion per annum [into supplying water]. Throughout the country, there are over 80 water treatment plants that are being augmented on and fixed… we are not folding our arms,” Molewa said.

Other work that is taking place includes the intake of internship qualified graduates, by Rand Water, who are being trained so that they can be given space to help in the ailing areas especially in municipality.

“We’ve realigned work internally. Now we have a better structured department of water affairs that can support the municipalities.

“Looking at municipalities, how we can employ and deploy the services of the rapid response unit,” Molewa said, adding that the problem is mammoth but the department has mammoth responses.  – SAnews.gov.za