Spotlight on G’town water woes

Department of water and sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Makana Mayor Zamuxolo peter share a laugh during the Makana Water and Sanitation Indaba
Department of water and sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Makana Mayor Zamuxolo peter share a laugh during the Makana Water and Sanitation Indaba

Makana officials urged to get back to basics with intervention plan

MAKANA municipal management came under fire yesterday as national, provincial and local government and institutional representatives gathered in the Grahamstown Council Chambers to discuss the ongoing water and sanitation issues in the municipality.

Several top officials, including Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, her deputy Pam Tshwete, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Fikile Xasa and Makana mayor Zamuxolo Peter addressed the audience.

They cited ageing infrastructure and poor planning as some of the key factors contributing to water supply interruptions across the municipality.

In August 2013, Grahamstown experienced protracted and unexplained water supply interruptions which led to several days of protesting by residents. In turn, national government introduced the Makana Water Intervention plan.

This centred around a task team mobilising key municipal and educational institutions to assist in diagnosing and addressing the water supply challenges.

Mokonyane said the intervention had since made positive strides and identified six key factors which needed to be addressed to produce a sustainable solution.

“Municipalities are categorised in three sectors – functional, at risk and dysfunctional. Prior to the intervention Makana fell into the last category, but now it is in the second because we have identified the problems and are busy working on a sustainable solution to them,” Mokonyane said.

“The priority areas include electrical supply integrity, major pump stations and water treatment works’ lack of capacity, water loss control and revenue generation enhancement.”

Despite Grahamstown’s infrastructure being more than a century old, Mokonyane stressed that part of the blame should fall on the municipality who had illustrated “poor planning and mismanagement”.

“Peter said they were building 2 000 houses and then looked to us for monetary assistance to supply infrastructure.

“That is poor planning, you cannot celebrate houses when you fail to supply basis bulk services,” Mokonyane said.

“We are using the back to basics approach in Makana. We do not need people in big black German cars, we need a man in jeans and boots who is willing to make a difference.”

DWS Strategic Projects manager Trevor Balzer, who heads the task team implementing the intervention, said community protests coupled with municipal inefficiencies were among the key issues which needed to be addressed to resolve supply issues.

“Our intervention is aimed at the repair and upgrade of bulk water supply infrastructure, increased water storage capacity, ensuring the integrity of water supply reticulation networks and refurbishment and upgrade of necessary electricity systems.”

Peter said: “I invite everyone to spend a day with us and see the progress we are making without us shying away from our shortcomings”.

-Tremaine van Aardt

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