The release of the 2011 Green Drop Report revealed that the majority of the sewage systems in South Africa are either dysfunctional or are heading in that direction.
A lack of maintenance over the years as well as a lack of spend on infrastructure upgrade has resulted in untreated sewage pouring into our rivers and oceans with ever increasing frequencies.
Jeffreys Bay is a prime example of the challenges facing South Africa.
Severely cash strapped due to maladministration, the Kouga Municipality has been unable to begin the R 37 Million upgrade to the town’s sewage infrastructure.
Despite this project being approved by the previous council and a contract being signed to begin the project in May, nothing has happened.
This lead to the Democratic Alliance (DA) rejecting the 2011/12 Budget last month.
“The entire Capital budget for the Kouga would not be enough to fix the sewage problems in Jeffreys Bay, yet alone the other towns in the Kouga such as Humansdorp which also has seen sewage spills”, said DA Councillor Brenton Williams.
The decline in the infrastructure of Jeffreys Bay is no by means an isolated occurrence according to the Green Drop Report. And the problem is caused by severe cash flow problems caused by the Municipalities themselves.
The national average of collection of revenue owed to Municipalities in South Africa is way under 80 %.
Most municipalities calculate a higher rate of collection in their budgets, of say 90 %, leaving to ever widening cash flow shortages.
The Kouga budget is going to be about R 40 million short this year simply due to the problem of an actual collection rate being about 10 % less than what the budget is based upon.
When money becomes tight, money stops being spent on maintenance and upgrades to sewage, water and electricity infrastructure.
So that means that we, as residents who use the beaches of our town and walk in its streets have two choices facing us.
One option is that we just accept sewage spills that are causing our town to be hazardous to our health or we take action and demand that our Municipality fix the problem.
This demand from residents for basic services that actually work is being heard from all over South Africa right now.
The Port Elizabeth Rate Payers Association announced today their decision to apply for a court interdict against the PE Metro in an effort to declare their budget invalid. It is a process that will be closely watched here in the Kouga.