COGTA must release emergency drought relief funding to Ugu/Hibiscus Coast

By Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL, DA Constituency Leader for Hibiscus Coast:

THE DA urgently appeals to KZN’s COGTA department to release emergency drought relief funding to the Ugu District Municipality as salt water runs through the taps from Hibberdene to Ramsgate.

Currently, some 180 000 residents and visitors to the area do not have access to clean drinking water after strong tides and the weak flow of the Umzimkulu River caused the sea to push up into the river, right up to the extraction pumps. The local Bhobhoyi Dam has also dropped to its lowest level ever due to ongoing drought.

Reports are that the majority of shops in the municipality have run out of bottled water with most residents now solely reliable on Ugu tankers to provide drinking water. The DA would like to thank those residents who have made drinking water freely available from their private boreholes for needy residents.

Right now, Ugu is stretched to the limit technically and logistically trying to relieve the immediate effects of salt water in its taps.  While the municipality is trying its best it simply does not have the capacity to deliver clean drinking water to residents.

This is not just an immediate crisis.  It is a disaster with the holiday season just weeks away. Hibiscus Coast locals are heavily reliant on this “golden” economic period which is now in serious jeopardy.

These water shortages are the result of poor water management, poor infrastructure management and inadequate contingency planning for drought.  These are ANC failures and they are not restricted to Ugu.

The DA has fought tirelessly for this drought to be taken seriously through our ‘no water, no life campaign’ rolled out across KZN at the beginning of this year.

Yet all national and provincial government have made are empty promises.

Our province’s water crisis could have been avoided had provincial government acted sooner. Since July last year, only 2% of a massive R353 million drought relief grant from national government has been spent in the province.

The DA has submitted a written parliamentary question to MEC Dube-Ncube in this regard.  We expect an answer from her by the end of the week in terms of Legislature procedures.

Ugu cannot do any more on its own.  This crisis is beyond its current capabilities.  Funding and technical skills must be provided by provincial COGTA to bring immediate relief to the people of Hibiscus Coast and Ugu as a whole.

The DA calls on MEC Dube-Ncube to spearhead a co-ordinated response by all relevant provincial government departments in an effort to help the people of Ugu. We expect her to act quickly and decisively.

There can be no priority more urgent.