Over R14bn to support municipalities’ water infrastructure backlog

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

An amount of over R14 billion has been allocated to municipalities to address water infrastructure backlogs.

Tabling the department’s Budget Vote on Tuesday, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu announced that for the 2023/2024 financial year, the department will be allocating R10.1 billion to municipalities through the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) and R4.6 billion through the Water Services Infrastructure Grant (WSIG).

“The RBIG will be spent on 130 different projects across the country and the WSIG will be allocated to more than 400 projects across the country,” Mchunu said.

The department has over the past year been visiting municipalities with severe water and sanitation challenges and meeting with mayors, councillors, municipal managers, technical staff, and local stakeholders to analyze the problems and to identify what needs to be done.

“In most cases, we have been able to agree on improvement plans together with the municipalities, including projects to improve infrastructure, funded from our RBIG and WSIG. In many cases, we have mobilised our Water Boards to assist municipalities to implement the improvement plans.

“For example, in the Eastern Cape, the Amatola Water Board assisted Nelson Mandela Bay with the development of Phase 3 of the R534 million Nooitgedacht water transfer and treatment scheme, which was completed during the last financial year, using RBIG funding,” Mchunu said.

Progress on bulk water supply projects

Highlighting some of the major projects currently underway, Mchunu said the department is assisting the Makana Municipality with the development of the R393 million James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works, which is currently 89% complete, while Umgeni Water is assisting the Alfred Nzo District Municipality with the development of the R450 million Greater Mbizana Regional Bulk Water Scheme.

“The department is providing the Amatole District Municipality with RBIG funding for the R506 million Ngqamakhwe Regional Water Supply Scheme to supply water to the Ngqamakhwe, Butterworth, and Centane areas, which will be implemented over three years starting this financial year,” Mchunu said.

In the Free State, Bloem Water is assisting the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality with a range of projects, and has been provided with R130 million grant, with further allocations to be made in future financial years.

To date, R230 million of grant funding has been allocated and further funding will be allocated in future years.

In Gauteng, Rand Water continues to assist Emfuleni Local Municipality and Midvaal Local Municipality with a range of projects to address the sanitation crisis in the Vaal.

“Contractors have been on site for most of the last financial year, unblocking blocked sewage pipelines, replacing collapsed sewage pipelines, repairing and refurbishing pumpstations, and assisting the Emfuleni Municipality to restore its operation and maintenance functions,” Mchunu said.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the department has, since the last financial year, allocated R680 million from RBIG to the Zululand District Municipality for the Mandlakazi Bulk Supply Scheme to increase water supply to communities in the Zululand and uMkhanyakude areas.

“The Mhlathuze Water Board is assisting the Umkhanyakude District Municipality with a range of projects to improve water supply in the area. The projects will be implemented over four years, to a total value of R550 million.

“The department is also supporting the Ugu District Municipality with a range of projects to improve water supply, to a value of R328 million over three years.

“Our Water Partnerships Office is prioritising assisting eThekwini to put in place a public private partnership to reduce non-revenue water. Umgeni Water has reached an agreement with eThekwini to assist the city with the management and operation of 10 of its major wastewater treatment works,” the Minister said.

The Minister also announced that the long-awaited bulk pipeline from Nandoni Dam in Vhembe to Ntsami Dam in Giyani has been completed and is delivering water to Giyani.

This has enabled the Mopani District Municipality, with the support of the department, to start the upgrading of water treatment works in Giyani and to start incrementally constructing water reticulation systems to 55 villages in Giyani.

“The department is allocating R1.3 billion from its WSIG to the Mopani District Municipality over two or three years to complete the construction of this water distribution infrastructure. The department is assisting municipalities in Limpopo and Mpumalanga by funding the R1.3 billion Loskop Bulk Water project from RBIG.

“In North West, we recently initiated Operation: ‘Bulela Metsi’ in collaboration with the Provincial Government and the municipalities in the province. The department will provide some funding for these projects from its RBIG and WSIG, and applications are also being made to the Budget Facility for Infrastructure in National Treasury for additional funding”.

Bucket Eradication Programme original elements completed

Meanwhile, Mchunu said all the elements of the original Bucket Eradication Programme have been completed, apart from one project in the Northern Cape and eight projects in the Free State, which will be completed during this financial year.

However, Mchunu warned that, in reality, the programme will not eradicate buckets, because the municipalities are continuously initiating new bucket systems in informal settlements.

To address this, he said, the department has developed a National Sanitation Framework which has recently been approved by Cabinet. – SAnews