Pretoria - Opposition parties were not pleased with Tshwane mayor Randall Williams’s maiden State of the Capital Address.
The ANC and EFF bemoaned the absence of a focus on issues affecting the majority of citizens in the speech.
In the speech, Williams said the first phase of the multi-year project to upgrade the Rooiwal Water Treatment Plant was on track.
He said overall progress was at 48%, with the contractor expecting more than 50% of the work to be done by the end of this financial year.
The facility is the biggest water treatment plant in Tshwane and purifies 45% of the city’s waste water.
“It will remain in operation during the upgrade project. However, phase 1 is just the start, of course. We are still planning on implementing phase 2 and 3 over the next five years,” the mayor said.
The full cost of the project is estimated to be approximately R2 billion.
The second phase is due to start in the 2021/22 financial year, and will provide an additional 80 megalitres of treatment capacity per day to facilitate new developments for the next 20 to 30 years.
The Baviaanspoort Water Treatment Works project, according to Williams, was 88% complete, and on track for completion next month.
“This R41 million project will restore the additional treatment capacity needed for the plant, to ensure that the treated effluent released into the Pienaars River complies with national standards. This will stop further pollution of the Pienaars River and the Roodeplaat Dam downstream.”
In relation to electricity, the new Wildebeest infeed sub-station, that will link to Eskom and the rest of the province, was on track to be completed by 2024 in partnership with Eskom.
“We are also at an advanced planning stage regarding the refurbishment of both the Mooikloof and Wapadrand sub-stations, which were damaged during fire incidents.”
Regarding housing, he said Tshwane had a total of 227 informal settlements spread across its seven regions, with an estimated 345 710 households living there.
The recently approved Tshwane Informal Settlements Strategy would guide the incremental upgrading of informal settlements in Tshwane.
“The strategy will be largely funded through the upgrading of informal settlements partnership grant, and will be focused on providing basic services like water, sewerage infrastructure and electricity in informal settlements.”
A total of 60 upgrading plans were developed for implementation in the short to medium term. “A total of eight informal settlements are targeted for formalisation in the township establishment stage this financial year, with 19 informal settlements targeted for the 2021/22 financial year, and a total of 52 in the next three years.”
Targeted areas for formalisation in the financial year include Ga-Rankuwa Unit 15, Klerksoord Extension 32, Mabopane Extension 1, Nellmapius Extension 22, Pienaarspoort Extension 20, Pienaarspoort Extension 21, Soshanguve Block T and Stinkwater Extension 10. “The areas targeted for formalisation in the next three years will see 72 880 households provided with formal and permanent stands.”
On rates collection, the mayor said the the City faced a significant drop in revenue. “In the last financial year the budget estimation for the collection rate was 95%; with the Covid-19 impact it dropped to less than 75% towards the end of 2019/20 financial year.
“Following the reinstatement of council at the end of October 2020, we immediately began to interrogate the reasons for the poor financial performance in the 2019/20 financial year, which resulted in a deficit on the operating account of over R4bn.”
He said the long-term financial sustainability plan, adopted by council during 2018, had been critically reviewed to refocus on short-term interventions to ensure a return to financial health as quickly as possible.
Matters under review include reducing non-essential expenditure, enhancing revenue and debt collection, implementing virtual community outreach programmes to assist residents with their accounts, as well as affordability arrangements to address arrears debt and the registration of qualifying indigents.
In reaction, ANC regional leader Dr Kgosi Maepa said they were disappointed and felt there was no value for money for citizens.
He said Rooiwal was assisted by the national government, and the city had failed to collect rates and taxes.
“They said a lot of nothing really. He said Covid-19 had crippled the residents in the metro and they were paying for services that they were not getting, and affluent areas were the focus.” He said he was glad elections were around the corner and residents could change the mandate.
His EFF counterpart MoAfrika Mabogwane said it was a hollow speech, and it would not solve the Hammanskraal water issue.
“He comes to tell us that the city does not have money and needs national intervention; so those are issues we will highlight. They are incapable and have zero plans around revenue collection.
“People are out of jobs because of Covid-19 and the metro needs to come up with creative ways to bring the city to stability. We will deal with these issues in detail,” said Mabogwane.