Sedibeng Sewerage Scheme: Proclaiming Presidential Priority leads to two year delay

Mike Moriarty MPL

Spokesperson on Finance

In late 2011 then Gauteng Funding Agency head Oupa Seabi informed the Gauteng Legislature Finance Portfolio Committee with great delight that the much-awaited Sedibeng Regional Sewerage Scheme would finally be implemented.

Up to that point it had been delayed by an inability to raise finances, a problem solved when, to everyone’s relief, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) stepped in. According to Seabi construction would start by no later than the end of March 2012.

It was about time that something was done about the sewage situation in the Vaal area. The eight waste treatment plants in the Sedibeng District had an average Green Drop score of 62.5% – among the lowest in the province – and none received Green Drop certification.

Year after year local municipalities in the district were promised that their status would be addressed when the ageing sewage purification works would be relieved by the new scheme. Indeed, a sewage purification plant is expensive and is beyond the financial capacity of a local council.

Moreover, housing projects are delayed by the lack of capacity to handle the sewage emanating from extra dwellings. Therefore, by delaying the regional sewerage scheme the government has been causing people desperate for housing to wait even longer.

Thus the DA welcomed Mr Seabi’s news.

Unfortunately, when March 2012 came and went we enquired what had happened to the scheme. We were told that there had been a re-think of the process. Then we were told that the scheme formed part of a Presidential Priority project.

The most recent answers to my questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature regarding progress yielded an answer that said that Rand Water had been made the implementing agents and that contracts were being awarded.

Unfortunately there is still no clear answer on when construction will begin. At best it looks like it will be March 2014 before we see excavators on site. This would be a full two years beyond the promised start date for the scheme.

The DA hopes that the speedy completion of the project will take place to enable the delivery of houses and other much needed services in the area.

Perhaps now that the project is no longer a presidential priority it will finally receive the priority attention it deserves.