Committee warns department to monitor municipality's spending on water infrastructure grants
Cape Town - The parliamentary committee on human settlements, water and sanitation on Wednesday expressed its concern about the lack of monitoring by the Department of Water and Sanitation on municipalities’ spending of the water services infrastructure grant.
This comes amid the increase in waste water infrastructure backlogs and crumbling of water services infrastructure generally.
“It is unacceptable that monitoring of municipalities is not done to ensure that allocated resources are used for the benefit of communities, especially in the context of lack of water to many communities in the province and the continuing pollution of rivers by dysfunctional waste water treatment works.
“It is also undesirable that unspent money is returned to the National Treasury at the expense of a project that would have improved the lives of the people,” committee chairperson Machwene Semenya said.
The committee was briefed that municipalities in Limpopo have spent 65% of their budgeted R506 million aimed to improve water infrastructure there.
It was particularly concerned that the Mopani District Municipality, Vhembe District, Lephalale and Sekhukhune District Municipalities have not spent any of their already transferred grants bringing to R200 million in unspent funds.
Semenya also said the committee wants the Department of Water Affairs and sister departments to improve their monitoring to ensure that grants were efficiently utilised to deliver quality services to the people.
Meanwhile, the committee has called for effective planning with clear timelines for bulk infrastructure in Limpopo.
Semenya said they were worried that the Nandoni to Nsami's 49km bulk water system had not been completed, despite the initial completion date of February 2018.
“This delayed trend is evident among many projects in the province, which has a direct implication on the funding required, especially because infrastructure projects require further additional funds for any delays.”
She also said the committee has called for collaboration with municipalities to ensure alignment between the completion of bulk projects and reticulation infrastructure.
“It is unacceptable that provision of water and sanitation is delayed due to the delay as a result of reticulation infrastructure not being there,” Semenya added.
She added that they wanted a seamless working relationship between all departments and municipalities to ensure the provision of services.
“The committee will for its part engage the select committee on cooperative governance, water and sanitation to establish a working relationship aimed at ensuring that the executive is held accountable and that services are delivered,” Semenya said.