Richards Bay – The King Cetshwayo District Municipality has presented its R1.4 billion Budget for the 2023/24 financial year, placing a strong emphasis on resolving its water crisis.
The northern KwaZulu-Natal district set aside R145 million to service bulk water infrastructure and ease the water shortage it has been experiencing for years.
It has also set aside more than R320m to upgrade existing infrastructure and build new ones where there were none before.
That was announced by the district mayor, Thami Ntuli, on Tuesday in Richards Bay when he tabled the Budget before a full council.
Video: Sihle Mavuso/IOL
Ntuli admitted that it will take them about a year to fully resolve the backlog they inherited when the IFP took over the municipality from the ANC in November 2021.
The district municipality is made up of five local municipalities, namely, the City of Umhlathuze (Richards Bay-Empangeni), Umfolozi, Umlalazi (eShowe), Nkandla and Mthonjaneni (Melmoth).
Since water and sanitation fall under it, the administration has a responsibility in all these five local municipalities and Ntuli said in each municipality they have a key water project.
“In each and every municipality we have those key projects which we have identified that after completing them, people will have access to water.
“Hence when we talk about R500m we are talking about introducing new projects that will extend the current reticulation and even have the provision of reservoirs where water will be collected before they are distributed to the communities.
“It deals with major projects where we will be ensuring that we increase the footprint as King Cetshwayo.
“So, we have set aside a Budget of more than R500m for that, to be specific,” Ntuli told IOL after presenting the budget.
Despite the ambitious targets, Ntuli said load-shedding has been hampering their efforts to supply water in the district that is ranked alongside Zululand, Umzinyathi, Ugu, Uthukela and Umkhanyakude in terms of water scarcity in the province.
“The Budget for the 2023/24 year is over-shadowed by the greater fiscal environment, where the costs of load shedding have impacted on our ability to provide a constant supply of water to our people.
“Soaring food prices and construction costs are all serious matters which we have taken into consideration when planning this Budget.”