South Africa: Minister Senzo Mchunu visits Gqeberha

Department of Water and Sanitation, Republic of South Africa
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Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu says there are no further delays anticipated for the completion of the Nooitgedacht/Coega Low Level Scheme.

Minister Mchunu returned to the Eastern Cape for two days to pay attention to the water issues in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality (NMB), Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and Sarah Baartman District Municipality (SBDM).

The visit comes after residents in the municipalities complained about having to drink dirty water.

Minister Mchunu, joined by Deputy Ministers David Mahlobo and Dikeledi Magadzi met with officials from the NMBMM, SBDM, BCMM, the Amatola Water Board, Amatola Labour and the province’s business sector.

The Minister’s visit to the province aimed to assess water resource management and the needs for Gqeberha.

During the second day of the visit, Minister Mchunu led a site visit to the Nooitgedacht Water Treatment Works just outside Gqeberha.

The plant is currently on Phase 3 of construction which is at 99% completion and will serve the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

The project had been anticipated to be completed in 2019, but the completion date was pushed back due to several delays.

Minister Mchunu heard that on April 1st the plant will release the first water to the NMBMM.

Minister Mchunu says the goal is to increase water security in the country overall.

“Not only that but quality water in a sustainable way,” said Mchunu. “This thing called water crisis is going. We are here to face up to whatever challenge.”

“We are going to households. Every household must get access to water, where they are”, Mchunu emphasised.

The minister said the challenge facing Gqeberha’s in the main is how to deliver quality water during a drought while getting water from low level reservoirs.

“How do you suck from a low level, face the demand but produce quality water? I will meet with the technical team to brainstorm ideas and engage with the Metro to come up with possible solutions,” the minister said, saying he will sit down with the teams within the coming week.

He noted that he is happy with the progress in Nooitgedacht but still expects more efficiency, hard work and service delivery from the Metro.

The minister told the NMBMM officials to start deploying engineers to the plant, emphasising the work will not conclude when the handover happens.

He noted that the plant will need running and to be maintained for it to be sustainable for the people it will serve.

However, Minister Mchunu raised concerns regarding the functionality of the Amatola Water Board.

Minister said the organisation is not a stable one.

“It is not stable in finances, in good governance and service delivery. We are not done with them; we will meet with the board again,” Mchunu said.

Minister Mchunu met with the board during the first day of the visit where he expressed his unhappiness and disappointment with them.

The board was further fingered in some of the delays in projects both in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality and the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

“Their work at the Nooitgedacht shows that in part it can do the work, but we have made lots and lots of notes regarding the board, however, there is no finding as yet,” he noted.

The minister undertook a directive that more research and work needed to be done in drought-ridden areas for the utilisation of ground water.

The minister says there needs to be plans that will ensure sustainable use of ground water.

“This thing of drilling a borehole here and then there and not being sure when it will run out is not sustainable,” he said.

“We are not comprehensive enough in terms of ground water. I want to propose to do some dedicated and sustainable research in regard to ground water.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Department of Water and Sanitation, Republic of South Africa.

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