DA makes alarming discoveries during water, sanitation and environment oversight visits

By:

Lindy Wilson (MP), DA Constituency Head for Maruleng

Leon Basson (MP), Deputy Shadow Minister Water & Sanitation

Terri Stander (MP), Deputy Shadow Minister Environmental Affairs:

Oversight visits by the DA Shadow Deputy Ministers of Water and Sanitaion and Environmental Affairs, Leon Basson and Terri Stander and Lindy Wilson, the DA Constituency Head of Phalaborwa, Tzaneen and Maruleng, have uncovered a range of problems in the North East.

  • The team stumbled upon an illegal sand mining operation on the banks of the Kgarongwe River near Maruleng. It was clear that the operation is destroying the ecological balance of the river through the removal of sand, which is used for building. Trucks, as large as 20 ton haulers, from as far afield as Lydenburg, are digging and removing astronomical amounts of river sand on a daily basis, resulting in the dessimation of the river bed.

The area, which falls in the protected area of the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere, is supposed to be protected. The landfill site was unfenced and this has led to cattle wandering onto the site. The local community has raised concerns as the cattle are grazing plastic and debris on the site, leading to potential deaths.

  • Meetings with stakeholders in Maruleng led to a visit of the water packaging plant at the Municipality. Lack of planning and monitoring of the water system clearly showed that the capacity to move water is severely limited by the installation of inadequate infrastructure.
  • In Phalaborwa, the team met with stakeholders and conducted investigations into the acid and metal levels in the rivers and water supplies in and around the town. Acid and metal levels are unacceptably high as a result of seepage and inadequate sealing of phosphate dumps. The content of recent reports done by independent investigators are very disturbing. The destruction of the environment in the area is alarming.

The lack of maintenance in the town has led to the collapse of the sanitation system which has resulted in on-going sewerage leaks, both in the town and surrounding rural areas. In some areas the sewerage leaks have been unattended for years. The potential health risks to the communities are very serious.

Some of these matters can be addressed quite quickly. However, much work will have to be done to rectify the untenable situation in the area.

The DA will further investigate these problems. Independent water analysis must be done urgently and an investigation into unused and returned infrastructure grants will have to take place. We will also raise these issues with the national ministers.

It is clear that these Municipalities are incapable of managing the challenges and whether or not it is as a result of corruption, lack of capacity or mismanagement, the DA will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of the problems and ensure that appropriate action is taken to rectify them.