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Why Ugu District’s sanitation backlog will take 17 years to fix

Ugu District acting municipal manager, Vela Mazibuko said the 31% backlog in sanitation in the region will take the next 17 years to fix. Picture: Supplied

Ugu District acting municipal manager, Vela Mazibuko said the 31% backlog in sanitation in the region will take the next 17 years to fix. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 17, 2023


The Ugu District Municipality on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal has provided clarity on why the 31% sanitation backlog will take the next 17 years to clear.

The figure of 31% was first mentioned at the South African Local Government Association’s (Salga) national meeting in Durban last week by Ugu’s acting municipal manager, Vela Mazibuko.

Mazibuko was presenting on the state of service delivery in the district.

This week, Ugu provided feedback on exactly what Mazibuko meant when he said the 31% will take close to two decades to resolve.

The backlog only encompassed rural communities, and three main factors needed to be considered before they arrived at the mentioned time frame, Mazibuko told IOL on Monday.

The presentation by Vela Mazibuko showing the statistics surrounding sanitation in the Ugu District. Picture: Jehran Naidoo

Along the coastal strip of Ugu, where tourism is a major role player in the local economy, there is 100% water and sanitation service delivery through use of water-borne sanitation, septic tanks and conservancy tanks, the acting MM explained.

It is rendering those services inland, that has posed a major challenge for the local government.

“Ugu Municipality is determined to eradicate the sanitation in a shorter time-frame than 17 years. However, the scientific calculation used to arrive at the 17 years considers three main factors to calculate the estimated period it may take to completely eradicate the backlog.

“Firstly, we looked at the overall backlog of all basic services within the District Service Delivery Mandate. Secondly, the percentage of Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) allocated to rural sanitation, which is limited (currently +/-R42m).

“And lastly, we calculate the estimated amount per sanitation unit, escalating annually,” Mazibuko said.

Mazibuko said in the interim, Ugu is currently implementing a rural sanitation project to help dent the 31% backlog in a positive way.

“The current design is a lifetime design which is a double pit toilet. We are planning to cover all four local Municipalities, while taking into account the growth in population and number of households in need,” Mazibuko explained.

Statistics from Ugu’s presentation last week paints a grim picture of just how many people in the district live in an undignified manner with regards to water sanitation facilities.

Nearly 100,000 residents in Ugu still rely on pit toilets, while more than 7,000 people do not have a toilet.

More than 5,000 people still use a bucket toilet system, some of which is collected by the municipality while others have to dispose of the human waste by themselves.

Ugu was one of the districts named in the South African Human Rights Commission’s report into the state of water in KwaZulu-Natal and was called out for violating the rights of residents by failing to provide access to clean drinking water.

Ugu also confirmed that the district’s water department is without leadership, as a general manager is yet to be appointed to the position.

The process of finding a suitable applicant is almost complete, according to its chief financial officer, Kushi Audan, who spoke to IOL during the Salga conference.