Durban — Local government officials are expected to meet disgruntled residents of the Ugu District Municipality on Tuesday to address the ongoing water supply problem in the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast region.
On Monday, residents blocked the R102 in uMzumbe near Hibberdene, demanding a water supply. They were addressed by police and Ugu District officials and dispersed peacefully.
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala is expected to convene a special imbizo on Tuesday to provide feedback on the Water Turnaround Plan for Ugu District following several engagements hosted with stakeholders within the district and entities of government.
In February, following a protest in uMzinto, Zikalala convened a meeting and developed a six-point plan to deal with the water supply issues, including addressing ageing infrastructure, vandalism and lack of technical capacity.
Better World Alliance founder and local activist Ibrahim Shaik said for more than 107 days Ugu had not delivered consistent clean water to residents in ward 13, which comprises Hibberdene, Stickfarm, uMzumbe, Fairview, Alerton Store and down the coast to Port Edward.
On Friday, Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu and Zikalala attended a ministerial meeting at Ugu District Municipality.
The complaints from Monday’s protest, Shaik said, were inconsistent water supply, the failure by Ugu to provide water tankers and service delivery concerns resulting from the apartheid policy of separate development.
“I will follow up on the turnaround plan and whether the war room created by Minister Mchunu to mitigate problems held their first meeting on Monday. If they did, I would request minutes of the meeting and their proposals,” Shaik said.
Zikalala said he was concerned about revenue collection, problems with the billing system, illegal water connections and outstanding debt.
He said Ugu District Municipality was owed R133 million by businesses, while residents owed R732m.
“We had strikes by disgruntled employees that bordered on sabotage of property. Employees must work and be progressive and contribute to the development of the municipality. The residents must stop the culture of not paying for services if they wanted the municipalities to be sustainable. We are listening to all the concerned stakeholders,” he said.
Mchunu said two projects, planned to be completed in 2025, were being fast-tracked but processes had to be followed.
“We have begun, together with the Umgeni Water Board, on the lower uMkomazi project. This will deliver more than 100 megalitres per day and will cater for demand going forward. Work is under way to build a third dam in Ugu to provide additional storage,” he said.
Tim Brauteseth MP, National Council of Provinces representative for KZN, said DWS, through a Water Services Infrastructure Grant, had given Ugu R130m for the implementation of water infrastructure projects for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 financial years.