The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report on the water crisis in KwaZulu-Natal municipalities served as an eye-opener for the local government to deliver services to the people.
That is the view of KZN Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC, Siboniso Duma, who has conceded that the SAHRC report has caught them wanting.
He said that the bulk water availability was linked to the improved quality of life, economic development and job creation.
"It is for this reason that elected public representatives have a responsibility to demonstrate accountability and show a sense of urgency in the face of this crisis," he said, responding to the SAHRC report.
He affirmed their commitment to work with the SAHRC, Public Protector, Auditor General and others to strengthen service delivery and to also protect human rights.
He also said they will be working closely with the Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu to ensure service delivery.
The commission released a 155-page "talk of the town" report on Monday on the water crisis in KZN municipalities water utilities over the crumbling state of water supply.
The report called for an urgent response to maintain infrastructure, illegal water connections, tackle corruption and other factors contributing to the water crisis in KZN.
However, as pointed out by the report, Duma said that the spatial legacies of apartheid across all municipalities were also the main causes of infrastructure deficits.
"This is compounded by increasing population and reduction of budget allocation for spending in social infrastructure. KwaZulu-Natal currently has a population of more than 11.2 million," he added.
Linked to above, Duma stated that agriculture and companies in the steel, chemical and manufacturing sector were the most water-intensive sectors in the province.
"The above has resulted in the gap between water supply and water demand," he said.
Furthermore, he expressed confidence in the appointment of the new uMngeni-uThukela Board that was appointed and announced by Cabinet last week that it would usher in a new era in the planning and delivery of bulk water to municipalities.
He said their main focus was to deploy state resources to ensure the following results:
– Ensure provision of quality water to safeguard public health.
– Repair and adequate maintenance of water infrastructure that has collapsed.
– Acceleration of the construction of new dams and other water infrastructure.
– Addressing water leaks to prevent water losses.
– Undertaking more investments into water infrastructure projects and to exploration of capital private finance.
Duma said they will also work with the law enforcement agencies to arrest those responsible for the sabotage of water infrastructure with the sole intention of procuring water tankers contracts.
"We call on communities to assist to deal with this practice. Finally, we offer to ensure that ordinary members of society and other key stakeholders are integrated into the entire value chain of the delivery of water," he said.