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Water infrastructure is crumbling in South Africa

Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, is misleading the residents of Gauteng who have experienced dry taps for the past three weeks, by blaming the collapse of water provision on a single instance of cable theft.

Churchill dam clive wright

Cable theft is a contributor to the problem, but the reality is that South Africans are facing this crisis, because the Water Affairs Department has not maintained our infrastructure adequately.

She calls this crisis a “technical glitch”.

“At a meeting requested by the DA with the General Manager of Operations at Rand Water, Mdudzi Mkhize, we were informed that this crisis was not merely a technical glitch as the Minister wants South Africa to believe,” said Leon Basson, the Shadow Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation.

Cable theft might have been one of the reasons for the system collapse, but the Minister dismisses various critical technical infrastructure problems at the time of this crisis:

  • Poor maintenance – numerous instances of pump failure and pipe failure have been reported, and these have not been sufficiently addressed;
  • Lack of backup response management – Rand Water ought to have backup arrangements in respect of power outages, which have now become common and will remain so over the next few years; and
  • Lack of technical competence – the consequential failures experienced over the past three weeks should have been foreseen and mitigated by engineering management.

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Ekurhuleni Metro for example records 1 200 million litres of water losses per day due to faulty infrastructure and thus loses R500 million in water revenue per year.

Water is crucial to daily survival and the provision thereof is included in our Constitution in the Bill of Rights, which states that: “everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water”.

Minister Mokonyane should stop downplaying the real reasons for this crisis.

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