Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)

Department of Basic Education transferred R200m to Rand Water for emergency water

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jun 30, 2020

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Johannesburg - The Department of Basic Education has so far transferred only R200 million to  Rand Water for provision of emergency water to more than 3 000 schools, head of department Mathanzima Mweli said on Tuesday.

The department awarded a R600m tender to Rand Water for the provision of water tanks and water to 3 500 schools to alleviate the Covid-19 pandemic. The tender was awarded without following the normal supply chain processes after the department followed the National Treasury regulations.

Briefing the basic education portfolio committee, Mweli said his department has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Water and Rand Water.

He explained that R600m was allocated to the Basic Education Department and it has to account for the funds.

Mweli told MPs the department has already signed a R200m tranche to Rand Water.

"Before we transfer the R400m we have to satisfy ourselves that every cent of the R200m tranche is accounted for," he said.

A report tabled before the committee showed that in anticipation of the re-opening of schools, 3 500 schools with water supply challenges were identified. "This number was subsequently reduced to 3 335,"reads the report.

It also said the department initiated an Emergency Water Supply programme and appointed Rand Water as an implementing agent to assist provinces to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 infection in schools.

"Rand Water is busy with Phase one – the temporary installation of tanks to ensure that each school on the list has at least one tank. The Department of Basic Education transferred only R200m to Rand Water as a first tranche. There is currently no expenditure beyond that," the report stated.

According to the report, Rand Water procured tanks from 40 different suppliers.

"The average cost for a 5 000 litre tank is R5 020 and the average cost for a 10 000 litre tank is R9 551."

It also said savings were also achieved by simplifying the temporary tank installation.

"The installations were budgeted at an average cost of R18 460. The simplified installation is now at an average cost of R3 312."

The report showed that out of 2 624 tanks to be delivered, only 1 846 were actually delivered, which translated to 70%.

The Eastern Cape had 732 tanks delivered, Free State 87,  KwaZulu-Natal 401, Limpopo 435, Mpumalanga 127, North West 64 and zero each at Northern Cape and Gauteng.

The report also showed 67% installation of tanks with 710 installed in the Eastern Cape, 69 in Free State, 373 in KwaZulu-Natal, 419 in Limpopo, 127 in Mpumalanga, 64 in North West, and both zero in Gauteng and Northern Cape. It said there were 88% of tanks filled with water – 2 948 out of 3 335.

Eastern Cape has 648 tanks filled with water, Free State 87, Gauteng 67, 931 in KwaZulu-Natal, 400 in Limpopo, 457 in Mpumalanga, 263 in North West and 95 in Northern Cape.

The report stated 1 363 schools would require basic sanitation in two provinces. A total of 910 toilets were ordered and delivered in Eastern Cape and a further 453 in Limpopo.

The implementing agents are Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Mvula Trust. Phase one will entail R30m for the provision of four mobile toilets per school.

Phase two will involve R25m for the pilot project for 600 "ABT" toilets at 100 schools whilePhase three will be accelerated SAFE implementation. 

Mweli noted with concern that they came across what he termed as "regional tendencies" in the Eastern Cape where businesses expected to be awarded tenders and did not allow outsiders to operate in their areas.

"Some of the local businesses insisted that we are not to get anyone to deliver mobile units but themselves," he said. Mweli added that Eastern Cape businesses delivered mobile units of poor quality.

"We had to terminate the contracts of mobile units that were of despicable quality," he told MPs.

Political Bureau

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