Communities give a big sigh of relief
RESIDENTS of three of KwaZulu-Natal's districts can breathe a sigh of relief because they will now have access to an uninterrupted water supply from the Umzinyathi district municipality.
The mayor of Umzinyathi district, James Mthethwa, announced yesterday that from July the municipality will be taking over "full control of the services that were rendered by uThukela Water" to the Umzinyathi, uThukela and Amajuba municipalities.
Water supplying entity uThukela Water has been under heavy criticism by residents, who were either not satisfied about the services rendered or complained about excessive billing. There were also reports of financial irregularities resulting in water supply shortfalls.
"We have committed ourselves to fast-tracking water accessibility in our district," Mthethwa said. "Water and electricity is not a privilege but a right and it is our responsibility as electorates have charged us with such responsibility.
"Our focus is to ensure that by 2016 all places under the four local municipalities have electricity and water."
Mthethwa revealed that when they took over there was a water backlog of R3, 5 billion. As a result the 2011-12 water and sanitation budget is R195-million. This figure excludes municipal infrastructure grant of R161-million and the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs' R20-million. The department of water affairs has budgeted R17-million.
"We are aware of the need to maintain our focus on improved service delivery, better governance and financial management. This is because we realise that Umzinyathi includes some of the poorest and most underdeveloped rural areas in our province," he said.
Mthethwa said while they had infrastructure in place to speed-up water and sanitation accessibility they were concerned about ageing. "We need about R800-million for a pipe to distribute water in certain areas in our districts since the current boreholes or schemes are really old, which is why we call on the private sector to partner with us."