DWS thwarts Makana water security

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A report by a team from national government says the Department of Water and Sanitation’s failure to fulfil its commitments has forced a halt to certain infrastructure projects in Makana Municipality.

The report by an advance team, which identified urgent priorities for Cogta’s intervention squad currently deployed in the municipality, said other challenges included regular water cuts, no planned maintenance and and average of approximately 200 leaks needing attention at any given time.

The report is titled ‘Ministerial Visit to Eastern Cape: Advance Team Report: Makana Ministerial Visit’ and dated 25 April 2018. It was prepared ahead of last Friday’s visit by Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Zweli Mkhize to Grahamstown.

Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Friday 4 May introduced a high-powered team tasked with providing managerial and technical capacity to Makana Municipality to a combined stakeholder group led by the Grahamstown Business Forum and including the Grahamstown Residents Association, school principals and private businesspeople among others. The Minister had earlier met with a delegation from Rhodes University and subsequently met senior councillors and officials from Makana and Sarah Baartman District Municipality.

Mkhize on Friday confirmed that the technical support for Makana, including for water and sanitation, would be managed via the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA).

The advance report stated: “Some infrastructure projects are on hold, especially projects involving [the]DWS counter-funding approach to municipal infrastructure development and maintenance. Due to DWS’s failure to fulfil its commitment, some municipal projects are forced to be put on hold.”

At a local level, the report states, taps in townships are broken or vandalised. In addition, Makana has been overburdened with the responsibility of transporting water to farms. The report recommends that the municipality enhances existing mobile communication between the municipality and citizens, using the MobiSam reporting system to deal with all complaints.

Since the 2014/15 financial year, the funds of Makana Local Municipality have been regazetted to the Sarah Baartman District Municipality for administration by the district, the report notes. “This is due to capacity and cash flow challenges experienced by the municipality. The municipality has made little progress on the implementation of projects since the 2013/14 financial year.”

These key projects were in water, roads, electricity and sewerage.

“In addition, the municipality has inadequate drainage systems and incomplete community projects,” the report states. “Repairs and Maintenance is below the norm of 8 per cent, at mid-year 2017/18 it was at 0.97 per cent of PPE. The municipality does not have an asset management plan in place.”

Measures recommended by the advance team were for the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) to deploy engineering skills to address immediate basic services, such as roads, water pressure management, water and electricity losses, as well as advisors to assist the municipality review its long-term infrastructure planning.

 Other measures to be taken are:

  • National Cogta – MIG unit to liaise with the National Treasury to support the municipality with the projects reprioritisation and projects preparation for 2018/19;
  • The Provincial Treasury to assist the municipality develop a budget accordingly for maintenance and repairs, as well as develop and asset management plan;
  • The District to play a more critical role to support the municipality on technical and procurement issues.
  • Makana Municpality was tasked with implementing drought intervention measures; developing an assets register for all the infrastructure especially the water infrastructure and developing a plan to replace the aged water infrastructure; developing concrete plans on water conservation and demand management; installing boreholes, especially in farming areas; acquiring resources such as vehicles, water tankers and engineers; utilising offers and partnerships with business and Rhodes University in the delivery of services and skills development.

According to the advance report, Mkhize was to engage the Minister of Water and Sanitation in an effort to get DWS to fulfil its promises to the municipality on counter-funding projects.

In an interview following the business stakeholder meeting in Grahamstown last Friday, Grocott’s Mail asked the Minister how national government planned to support municipalities’ water infrastructure development and maintenance when the Department Water and Sanitation was reported to be bankrupt and in disarray. MPs in the Parliamentary Porfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation earlier this month described DWS as a “collapsed department”.

“We have to be realistic about resource constraints,” Mkhize told Grocott’s Mail. “Every department has been asked to reprioritise their resources and I can’t speak for other departments.”

Makana Communications Officer Yoliswa Ramokolo said levels this week for dams serving Makana are estimated at 21% for Settlers and 80% for Howieson’s Poort.

“As far as the water supply, the municipality is still experiencing drought and water restrictions are still in place,” Ramokolo said this week.

Asked for updates on Makana water infrastructure upgrades, Ramokolo said:

  • The James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works upgrade is in progress and the anticipated completion date for phase 1 is December 2018.
  • Refurbishment of Waainek Water Supply is in progress: Phase 1, Electrical – the contractor is currently on site. Phase 1, Civil Works – the contractor has been appointed and is finalising the compliance matters before commencement of the works.

Regarding Makana’s drought status, Ramokolo said:

  • Funding has been received to address drought conditions in Riebeeck East and Seven Fountains. Work is in progress with the appointed service-provider busy with borehole assessments and recommissioning of the boreholes.

Meanwhile, on our doorstep, severe drought in Nelson Mandela Bay catchments has negatively impacted on the dam levels.

In its weekly report on dam levels, DWS said the continued low dam levels in Nelson Mandela Bay and surrounding areas threaten water and food security. Impofu Dam: 35.8%; Kouga: 10%. Loerie Dam had shown a significant improvement at 92.9% compared to 35.4% at this time last year.

On average, Eastern Cape dams had consistently improved following the past few weeks of rain. Most dams in the eastern part of the province had improved with the Amathole Water Supply System now at 92.2% compared to 71.0% at this time in 2017.

Xilinxa Dam also showed a great improvement at 60.8% compared to
3.6% at the same time last year.

“The Department of Water and Sanitation is concerned about the low dam levels particularly in Nelson Mandela Bay and will continue to monitor dam levels in the province to improve water security,” DWS said. “The department appeals to all residents to save water and adhere to water restrictions.”

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