Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has expressed alarm over an increase in vandalism incidents targeting water infrastructure.
The minister is currently in Gauteng as part of a nationwide programme to assess the status of water and sanitation delivery in all provinces.
Mchunu has since visited Free State, Eastern Cape, North West and Limpopo provinces.
On the first day of the Gauteng visit, Mchunu met with various stakeholders on governance, finance and service delivery. He was joined in Midrand at Gallagher Estate by deputies David Mahlobo, Dikeledi Magadzi, and the provincial government led by Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
Gauteng water consumption is the highest in the country due to the ever-growing population.
Now the province’s leadership wants to “conceive meaningful plans” to address the water supply crisis.
Last month, angry and bitter residents from the south of Johannesburg protested outside Rand Water’s headquarters.
In the Ekurhuleni suburbs of Kempton Park and Germiston, many homes and factories were without water or had such low water pressure that workplaces could not operate.
In both instances, all fingers pointed to the crumbling infrastructure because of alleged poor maintenance.
Mchunu said the vandalism of water infrastructure such as water treatment plants is detrimental to the provision of water.
He suggested a special meeting be convened to focus specifically on the destruction of infrastructure.
“This is the fourth ministerial visit we are undertaking after Free State, Eastern Cape, and Limpopo. With vandalism recurring everywhere, we need to endeavour to find solutions to this disturbing scourge. Each time it happens, it is a significant setback in our efforts to improve the lives of our people,” he emphasised.
Mahlobo singled out acid mine drainage and water pollution as a matter of ‘grave concern’ because it contaminates groundwater supply and affects drinking water.
“Gauteng is the epicentre of water pollution, and more emphasis needs to be put towards addressing it. This includes the long, drawn-out process of the Vaal,” said Mahlobo.
Makhura commended Mchunu and his team for their commitment to improving water security not only in Gauteng, but across the country.
“Water supply interruptions in Gauteng are becoming a norm. These are worrying developments because water is life,” Makhura said.
Rand Water and Magalies Water Boards had to present their financial performance overview. Both boards also had to explain what interventions they’d implemented to ensure potable water delivery in times of shortages.
Minister Mchunu is expected to meet with water services authorities, including executive mayors of Tshwane, Johannesburg, and Ekurhuleni Metros, and both Executive Mayors of Sedibeng and West Rand District Municipalities.
(Compiled by Narissa Subramoney)