By Refiloe Nt’sekhe MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Social Development:
The current water crisis in Gauteng warrants a National, Provincial and Local government Water War Room, to ensure crisis management is improved and that water infrastructure failure can be centrally remedied in the short term.
Areas of Gauteng enter their fifth day of dry taps today, with Minister Gordhan announcing earlier today that thousands of households are currently affected by water outage in Johannesburg and other Metros.
Minister Mokonyane’s Water and Sanitation department underspent R1.6 billion on infrastructure during the 2014/15 financial year and National Treasury has denied a rollover of these funds, meaning that in the past 12 months South Africa has been denied water infrastructure upgrades by Minister Mokonyane.
In Gauteng, the cities of Tshwane and Johannesburg lose almost half of their drinking water each year, and as infrastructure upgrades stall this will only get worse.
Under the leadership of Minister Mokonyane, the department has been spiralling out of control.
According to the Minister herself the estimated cost of upgrading water infrastructure across the country is R805billion over the next 10 years.
The National Department of Water and Sanitation should send experts to a Gauteng Water War Room with local municipalities that can control and monitor water demand systems. It is at the local government level that mostly the poor and vulnerable members of our society are affected.
The War Room should allocate scare water resources as an immediate priority to avoid water outages, and should urgently address the enormous water losses in Gauteng.
Each and every South African has the right to access water. South Africans have for far too long suffered due to the ineptitude of the political management in national, provincial and local government departments.
South Africa has both the money and skills to end this problem, but political will needs to be forthcoming now.
The time to take action is now, Minister Mokonyane.