The NMB Municipality has for many months encouraged the residents of the metro to be more water conscious, particularly after a failed attempt to extort additional revenue through proposed water restrictions and unaffordable tariff increases. These tariffs were proposed at the time without presenting any sustainable, comprehensive strategy to combat rampant water leaks, as extensively reported on in this newspaper.
The DA remains a vocal supporter of any strategy designed effectively to eliminate water losses, the burden of which continues to be unfairly passed on to consumers. At the same time we support efforts to expand our city water supply responsibly and sustainably, but without the costs being passed to our residents.
It is thus of great concern to note that the mid-term budget and performance report of the NMB Municipality indicates increased water losses over both quarters of the current financial year. What is of even greater concern is the interim proposal adopted to fund the current expansion of the Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme via the municipal purse.
In our opinion, using these funds will lead to further cuts in vital infrastructure maintenance which has been directly cited as a reason for the increase in water losses. We cannot afford to utilise maintenance funding for anything other than its intended purpose, especially when one considers our current infrastructure maintenance backlog of R2.4-billion, an amount for which less than half is currently accommodated in the budget.
The only acceptable solution is still that everything possible has to be done to expedite the payment of the R360-million promised by President Jacob Zuma during last year’s electioneering in Nelson Mandela Bay to complete the construction of the Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme. Our officials should be allowed to spend our maintenance budget, limited as it is, on essential maintenance operations to secure our water supply and to eliminate any future water losses.
The DA will continue to call for this funding to be paid as a matter of extreme urgency, as promised, so that the residents of the metro will not be forced to fund the election promises of Zuma.
The future growth of our city depends on having sound, well maintained, viable infrastructure in place and in having an adequate supply of essential services – water is a non-negotiable.
-Morne Steyn, DA councillor for Ward 5 and member of the infrastructure, engineering and energy standing committee, NMB