DA criticises Ugu for ‘putting residents at risk during Covid-19 pandemic’

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STATEMENT BY DA SOUTH CONSTITUENCY HEAD DR. RISHIGEN VIRANNA

The residents of the Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) South Coast continue to suffer through the incompetency of the ANC leadership in Ugu District Municipality. For the third time in 5 years, residents have had to endure saltwater in their pipes and face water outages once the problem was realised.

It has been 2 weeks of hell as residents of Hibberdene, Woodgrange on Sea and Ramsgate South, have not seen a single drop of water in their taps. The promised water tankers have yet to be seen by many residents as the municipality has not followed a schedule nor were their routes communicated to affected ward Councillors. All this amidst the Covid-19 pandemic where water, which is vital for hygiene purposes as an absolute necessity. DA ward councillors have tried their utmost to keep communities informed. However, they have faced massive delays in getting correct updates from municipal officials and political leadership.

Again, the saltwater crisis is blamed on seawater ingress up the Umzimkhulu River to the St Helens Rock extraction point. Further investigations show that the current temporary berm across the river, meant to prevent seawater ingress, has not been maintained resulting in it becoming ineffective and once again failing. After years of pressuring the KZN Provincial Government, the Ugu District Municipality has been allocated R2.7 million for the construction of a new berm. We have confirmed that the contract has been awarded and the Democratic Alliance (DA) will closely monitor the rapid and hopefully proper construction of this berm.

The DA has applied consistent pressure at municipal, provincial and national spheres of government to address the water crisis in Ugu:

DA Ugu Councillors have voted against the ANC municipal budgets as they again failed to prioritise water provision and maintenance.

The DA’s Ray Nkonyeni Municipality Councillors have also persistently sought accurate and updated water information for residents.

In the KZN Provincial Legislature, Ugu’s Water Crisis has been debated 3 times with calls for the municipality to be placed under administration.

We have submitted a petition from residents to the Speaker, requesting that the municipality account to Legislature regarding the Water Crisis.

With the assistance of the DA Shadow Minister of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Ugu’s political and administrative officials were hauled before Parliament’s CoGTA Portfolio Committee. Unfortunately, the follow-up meeting was postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.

We continue our call that Ugu’s bulk water services in the Ray Nkonyeni and Umuziwabantu Municipalities be transferred to the more competent Umgeni Water’s management.

Ultimately, the residents of the Ugu District Municipality have been abandoned by Premier Sihle ZIkalala and his MEC of CoGTA, Sipho Hlomuka. Despite numerous calls for interventions and a permanent solution, they have failed to provide any political will or leadership. Zikalala and Hlomuka have instead deflected our calls for meetings and succumbed to the politics of their own ANC Lower South Coast Region.

The only permanent solution for the residents of the Ugu District Municipality would be a change in political leadership. In the 2021 Local Government Elections, it will be up to voters to vote the incompetent ANC government in Ugu District Municipality out of power and replace it with a competent DA government. The DA will continue to fight to ensure all residents have a safe and reliable water supply.

 Dr Rishigen Viranna MPL
DA Ugu South Constituency Head

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