Govt, time to get serious about water


Dear President Ramaphosa

Gift of the Givers has been all over the news with claims that the Department of Water and Sanitation has reneged on a commitment to fund their emergency intervention in Makhanda (Grahamstown).
We will let Gift of the Givers fight their side as we do not have all the facts.
I remind government that this was a very real crisis with very damaging consequences if it was not addressed. In January, it was not clear that the Makana municipality could guarantee sufficient water for Rhodes University to open for the year. Had the university been forced to close, the local economy would have gone into total meltdown. Thankfully, we are out of that dire emergency, though our water supply is still highly constrained.
I also remind government that this was a crisis wholly of their own making. The east side of Makhanda is supplied from the national Fish and Orange River scheme and was in deep trouble because of poor maintenance of the James Kleynhans Water Works and because of a failed project to double its capacity.
The project to double the capacity of the James Kleynhans Water Works had a budget of over R100-million and was originally slated to complete by the end of 2017. That project has now been restarted.
What I challenge government to understand is why major infrastructure projects like this fail so often. Once or twice is bad luck; frequent repetition is failure by design.

As chair of Grahamtown Residents Association (GRA), I thank Gift of the Givers for saving our city. Government? I will thank you when you get serious about delivering infrastructure rather than delivering failure.

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