Limpopo council unable to supply water to dozens of local schools

Mogalakwena local municipality says it is unable to provide water tanks to schools due to financial challenges.
Mogalakwena local municipality says it is unable to provide water tanks to schools due to financial challenges.
Image: Lennart Niels Mayer

A Limpopo municipality has indicated that it's unable to provide water to more than 60 schools as the country prepares to reopen learning institutions.

Mogalakwena local municipality in Mokopane, which is currently under administration, has made a submission to the provincial command council (PCC) through cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Basikopo Makamu that it would need water tanks which would cost R7m a month to be able to provide water to 66 schools.

"Mogalakwena local municipality is unable to provide water tanks to schools due to financial challenges. Total cost estimated to R7,621,938.32 per month for 66 schools," the presentation stated.

Makamu, who is responsible for municipalities in the province, made the presentation on the state of readiness regarding water supply at schools.

Mogalakwena is one the five municipalities in the Waterberg district, where a total of 91 schools have been identified as needing adequate water supply to effectively deal with the devastating outbreak of novel Covid-19.

Municipal spokesperson Malesela Selokela said he was not aware of the presentation.

In the presentation, Limpopo municipalities have been required to plan for provision of water to schools from the list of 524 schools submitted by the provincial department of education.

Department's spokeswoman Tidimalo Chuene said they had not received an update from all the schools with regards to access to water supply.

The PCC has recommended an urgent engagement to be held with Mogalakwena local municipality and the department on a funding plan.

"Municipalities make teams available to urgently commence with assessment (sitting, drill, equip and connections) of boreholes and costing thereof for approval by the department of education for internal infrastructure.

"The department of education should be responsible for the payment of all internal infrastructure for the provision of water and the department of education pays for the cost of water provided to schools," one of the PCC's recommendation stated.

Saviour Association for School Governing Bodies chairperson Caiphus Moshutla said their interaction with the department had shown that schools were not ready to reopen.

"We advised the MEC for education Polly Boshielo to reopen schools in August because at the moment they are rushing to return learners to work. If we allow pupils to return to schools [now] we will be acting irresponsibly," he said.

Moshutla said the presentation illustrated that schools were not ready for restart at all.

The presentation said Modimolle-Mookgophong plans were not yet submitted.

Modimolle-Mookgophong local municipality mayor Marlene van Staden said: "All our schools have boreholes and tanks. In 2016/2017 we drilled many boreholes inside school properties and Standard Bank has also assisted us, hence we didn't have to submit the plan."

Van Staden said the schools have not received masks for pupils.

Meanwhile, Vhembe district municipality has identified 110 schools and said all would have water by Monday.

Vhembe said it was still doing further assessment on schools where they could connect to the reticulation within the village.

Mopani district has identified 114 schools and also committed to deliver water by Monday.

Capricorn district municipality stated it had identified 54 schools and 23 of those can be connected to reticulation at a cost of R1,082,151.06.

Sekhukhune district has 78 schools and only 27 water tanks are currently available, with additional 20 to be provide by Lepelle Northern Water this month.

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