DA calls on Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to intervene and stop Ugu Municipality’s looming ‘Day Zero’

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Letter written by DA Shadow Deputy Minister for Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements Emma-Louise Powell to Minister Sisulu:

The Democratic Alliance (DA) conducted an oversight inspection of the Umtamvuna Water Treatment Works on Tuesday, 1 October 2019, to understand how R66 million was spent by the Ugu District Municipality in 2011, on a pump system which has not been fully operational since 2012. The Ugu District supply dam is now sitting at less than 20% capacity, with several local municipalities relying on it as a water source.

Whilst the Umtamvuna dam was designed to provide assured supply of 17 days to all surrounding local municipalities within the Ugu District, current dam levels mean that should the last remaining pumps incur disruption, the Municipality would be unable to supply surrounding villages beyond 24 hours.

A briefing with local councillors revealed that whilst the under-capacitation of the dam presents a crisis in its own right, the combined lack of repairs and maintenance to the municipality’s reticulation system has meant that coastal villages are already being deprived of continuous water supply for lengthy periods during peak-season due to burst pipes and salt-water ingress.

The DA will thus be writing to both the Ministers of Water and Sanitation and COGTA, Lindiwe Sisulu and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, requesting emergency intervention. The bulk supply of water within the district municipality must now be placed under the direct control of the Umgeni Water Board. The Municipality must further be placed under administration in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution.

These water shortages are compounded by the fact that the Ugu District Municipality has a disastrous billing system, recuperating only R22 million worth of water bills per month – when municipal wages alone are in excess of R40 million. As such, the administration is using conditional grants and equitable shares allocated for capital infrastructure projects – that should be augmenting the water supply system – to pay staff salaries. It is worth noting, that due to cadre deployment and leadership instability, the Municipality no longer employs a single professionally registered engineer.

Ugu also received a qualified audit for 2018-2019 over unauthorised expenditure amounting to R243 billion. The same audit opinion was given in 2017-2018, due to the municipality’s failure to account for property valued at R4 billion.

This status quo cannot continue at the expense of residents. This looming disaster cannot continue. Not only are the coastal areas within the supply system noting an alarming decline in tourism due to on-going water insecurity, but the basic human rights of hundreds of thousands of village residents are being denied. The DA will therefore be engaging both the relevant water board and the Ministers in the coming days and will provide feedback to local residents once these engagements have concluded.

Media Enquiries
Emma Louise Powell MP

DA Shadow Deputy Minister for Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements 074 279 9940

Nicole Mirkin

National Press Officer 084 552 3122

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