Durban - KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Sihle Zikalala has appealed for vigilance from Ugu District residents to guard against theft and vandalism of water infrastructure, warning that criminals were thwarting the government’s efforts to provide water to communities in the area.
Speaking during an imbizo yesterday, Zikalala cited ageing infrastructure as one of the reasons for the region’s water supply problems. The water crisis on the South Coast came to light in around 2019, but the government has vowed to find a lasting solution.
He said they had noted that the infrastructure was not coping with the demand for water, as the population in the area had been growing and this had been one of the reasons for water challenges.
But he added that vandalism of infrastructure was another stumbling block.
“There are people who are vandalising government infrastructure and stealing cables that are part of electricity infrastructure that is crucial in the pumping of water,” said Zikalala. He appealed for vigilance from the community, especially against destruction and vandalism of infrastructure.
“It is sad when we have to hire security to keep watch over the infrastructure that supports us as the community. This is the case with Bhobhoyi Treatment Works,” said Zikalala.
He cited other instances where water treatment plants across the district had been vandalised in the past, urging the community to stand together against such acts.
He said while the government had sought to assist with supply by providing water tankers, the torching of the tankers in July last year had also exacerbated supply problems. In response to this, the district had been asked to re-prioritise its budget, with the water supply topping its list of priorities.
“This means things like sports stadiums and other needs will not be attended to, as the focus will be on water supply with the rands and cents at its disposal.”
Zikalala said the government had also sought to increase the capacity of the Umzimkhulu Dam, and had appealed to Eskom to increase capacity at power stations that were assisting in the purification of water.
According to the premier, the provincial government would continue monitoring whether the municipality was spending funds in accordance with the commitment to prioritise water supply. He indicated that the water supply challenge was not limited to Ugu, but was affecting different parts of the province.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka told the crowd that his department had identified infrastructure problems in municipalities across the province, and had sought to provide assistance in the form of funding and assistance from technical experts.
Yesterday’s Imbizo came just days after a meeting convened by Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu in a bid to find solutions to water problems in the district.