File image: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - A lack of maintenance of sewage infrastructure by the Sedibeng district and Emfuleni local municipalities in Gauteng is at the centre of the crumbling infrastructure problems leading to contamination of the Vaal River system, parliament's water and sanitation portfolio committee said on Sunday.

The committee had visited the municipalities and the Sebokeng waste water treatment plant and found that some the treatment units were not functional, leading to overloading of the remaining units, committee chairman Mlungisi Johnson said in a statement. 

"The committee has always emphasised the need for proper investment in maintenance of infrastructure to ensure longevity of the system and to avoid the unintended consequences like the spillage into the river system. It is also a requirement by the department of co-operative governance’s back to basics programme that municipalities must spend 10 percent of their budgets on maintenance," he said.

While the committee supported building new units, it had emphasised that the old units should be maintained to ensure optimal use of the entire plant. 

A matter of concern for the committee was the delays in implementing the Sebokeng regional sewer scheme, which ultimately resulted in negative social and economic consequences.

“The other social and economic impact the municipality faces as a result of the delay is that due to the spillage into the river system the amount of money it spends on purifying the water increases astronomically which affects the municipal finances negatively,” Johnson said.

"At the centre of the committee’s preoccupation is ensuring that spillage into the Vaal river system is stopped. Furthermore, the reduction of costs of purifying chemicals will ensure that municipalities have more money to spend on service delivery. As such, the committee has resolved that it will get monthly reports on interventions by all spheres of government in resolving the problem," he said.

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African News Agency (ANA)