Limpopo villages left high and dry after water department runs out of funds

07 August 2018 - 13:27
By Peter Ramothwala
Limpopo water project halted due to lack of funds.
Image: 123RF/Andriy Popov Limpopo water project halted due to lack of funds.

The cash-strapped Department of Water Affairs & Sanitation (DWAS) has left 55 villages in Limpopo without clean water and decent sanitation.

This after a multimillion-rand intervention project in the Mopani district municipality stalled.

Sowetan has learnt that 137 boreholes, out of a total target of 154, were refurbished or re-drilled but couldn't operate because the department is allegedly too broke to maintain them.

The department missed the deadline for the 17 boreholes that were due to be completed in June.

In 2014, then minister of water and sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, directed Lepelle Northern Water (LNW), a bulk water supply parastatal, to urgently assist in regularising the water and sanitation crisis in the Mopani district.

The department was supposed to complete the project and hand it over to the municipality for maintenance and operation.

Municipality spokesperson Witness Tiva said they could not comment and referred queries to the department, since the project was an intervention of the national department.

In an urgent letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, chairperson of the Giyani Business Forum, Patrick Ritshuri, requested an urgent intervention last week to “unlock funds to complete the project”.

Forum chairperson said patients at Nkhensani Hospital in Giyani, among them children, were being discharged without bathing because there was no water at the facility.“

Some serious surgical operations could not take place at the hospital,” said Ritshuri ,who further claimed that people were fetching cholera-infested water from rivers.“

There are also death cases resulting from consumption of cholera-infested water by community members,” he said.

He claimed women got raped on their way to fetch water.Ritshuri said a delegation comprising members of the forum, traditional and religious leaders, and community members, would meet with officials from the presidency “as a matter of urgency to find an amicable solution to this serious crisis”.

Departmental spokesperson Sputnik Ratau was sent questions last week and had not responded at the time of going to print yesterday.

The projects that were to be completed and handed over included the Giyani water and waste water intervention, Nandoni-Nsami bulk water project, and the new N'wamitwa Dam.

A source who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals said the department, through LNW, owed a contractor more than R70-million for the project and that the contractor had since abandoned it.

Approached for comment, LNW CEO Phineas Legodi referred Sowetan's inquiries to DWAS.