For every R100 rand the City allocates for water, a mere R5 goes towards maintaining its ageing infrastructure writes editor, Aakash Bramdeo
For every R100 rand the City allocates for water, a mere R5 goes towards maintaining its ageing infrastructure writes editor, Aakash Bramdeo

Who is more needy?

By Aakash Bramdeo Time of article published Jan 22, 2021

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If you want to understand why the taps in Chatsworth ran dry and why your tap is next, you’d need to understand how the city spends its money.

eThekwini will spend well over R50 billion in the current financial year, money it raises from you from various services and taxes. From this, the City allocates just under R10 billion for water.

Most of the money, just over R3 billion, goes towards buying water. The City then budgets to give away, for free, water worth just over R1 billion. It spends a further R1 billion paying staff. However, it spends less than half a billion rand (R498 million) on repairs and maintenance.

Put differently, for every R100 rand the City allocates for water, a mere R5 goes towards maintaining its ageing infrastructure. You don’t have to be an expert of any kind to know it is not enough.

As a result, the pumps and pipes are breaking more often. Already, the time it takes to fix a problem has moved from hours to days.

So, unless the politicians have a rethink on how the City spends its money, your best investment this year could be a storage tank or some buckets should the water tankers arrive.

If loadshedding was a person, it would turn 14 this year. We’ve had four different presidents since then, but none of them has been able to do much to change the situation. If anything, the situation has become progressively worse.

The latest round of loadshedding, which started late last week, is an indication of just how dire the situation is.

Most factories and businesses are not running at full capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most office workers are working from home and schools remain closed. As a result, we are using a lot less electricity than we normally would. Yet, we cannot produce enough to keep the lights on.

To solve the problem, we need to produce more electricity. Government has failed us in this regard. Those in power failed to build more power stations and, until recently, government did all it could to frustrate potential private producers.

So, get your candles ready because, at this rate, it will be years before the situation is resolved. By then we would have marked 21 years of load shedding.

These days, there are a lot of people who need help. There are also a lot of people who are willing to help.

They have been handing out food parcels, distributing water, cutting overgrown verges and fixing roads. If their only intention was to better their communities, their actions would be noble. But, in an election year, we are sceptical about the intentions of some.

Too many political parties and wannabe politicians seem to believe that helping the less fortunate creates the impression that they are good people and this will result in them getting support during the elections.

But how much a person gives should not be an indication of how good or bad he or she is. After all, the person who shares half of the only apple he has is more generous than the person who shares one apple from the packet of apples he has.

Furthermore, good leaders empower others. But these days we see more handouts rather than the type of empowerment that changes people’s lives. The reason is simple: the needy serve a purpose.

It begs the question: Who is more needy? Those who need in order to survive or those who need to show what good human beings they are?

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