Three big district municipalities owe R100m for water

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

Three district municipalities in Limpopo owe the Lepelle Northern Water more than R100million.

This has put a strain on the supply of bulk water services to communities in the province. Northern Water is a parastatal responsible for bulk-water supply to the region.

Though the parastatal declined to divulge the names of the municipalities concerned, Sowetan can reveal that they are Greater Sekhukhune, Mopani and Capricorn district municipalities.

Two other local municipalities, Polokwane and Mogalakwena, also reportedly owe the parastatal.

But Northern Water said yesterday it had a credit control policy to deal with collection of revenue from customers. NW said due to the nature of some of these outstanding debts, there had been "some challenges in fully implementing the policy".

This is because it also involves cutting the supply of water to customers.

The ability to pay for bulk water services is dependent on the ability of a particular municipality to put in place effective cost-recovery mechanisms - and the control of water consumption.

The parastatal's spokesman, Divhani Maremba, said yesterday that some of the municipalities' debts went as far back as 2006.

"Of course, late payment of bulk services have an impact on the services provided because our employees still have to get their salaries - and we still have to pay our suppliers for the chemicals and other necessities needed to provide a quality water-supply service."

Maremba said Northern Water had engaged various stakeholders to assist the municipalities pay off the debt.

"We are working with the affected municipalities, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the department of provincial and local governments to address the problem," Maremba said.

Some of the municipalities that Sowetan spoke to acknowledged they owed Northern Water and promised to pay back the money "soon".

Sizwe Yende, spokesman for the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality, said the department of water affairs had initially paid on their behalf.

But after Sekhukhune became a water authority and took over all the water projects in the area, they had to reconcile everything with the local municipalities falling under them - in order to pay the Northern Water "what is due to them".