In a bid to address the pressing challenges of water and sanitation in Sol Plaatje Local Municipality, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Mr Senzo Mchunu, and Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul, held a crucial meeting with the municipal authorities on Thursday, 27 July 2023. During the meeting, a steering committee was formed, comprising of a technical team from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the municipality, tasked with devising a turnaround strategy to tackle the water-related issues faced by the city.
The primary concerns outlined by the municipality during the meeting pertained to bulk water supply and reticulation to communities. To address these challenges effectively, the newly established committee will also benefit from the political oversight of Minister Mchunu and the Northern Cape’s political leadership.
As the Water Services Authority, Sol Plaatje Local Municipality holds the responsibility for wastewater management, treatment of raw water, and its reticulation. However, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) identified significant shortcomings in the operation and maintenance of both water and sanitation infrastructure, leading to sewage spillages, water leaks, and water interruptions in the municipality.
To counter the grave environmental impact of wastewater spillages, the DWS has issued several directives to address the overflow of the sewer network and pump stations, which are causing ponding in the Kamfersdam and Platfontein pans. However, the municipality has cited financial constraints in tackling these issues.
Furthermore, the committee will address the matter of high levels of water losses, which currently stand at an estimated 64% due to aging bulk and reticulation infrastructure. The committee’s mandate is to decisively tackle these issues, with a focus on improving the overall water and sanitation services in Sol Plaatje Municipality, ensuring that residents receive clean, running water in their homes.
Minister Mchunu expressed confidence in the steering committee’s effectiveness, stating, “We are endorsing this steering committee and are confident that it will improve the services of water and sanitation in the city. Various issues that include operation and maintenance, loss of water through leaks, and ageing infrastructure will be dealt with decisively. We need to improve water and sanitation services in this municipality and ensure that the people get the services of clean running water in their homes.”
In addition to addressing the challenges faced by Sol Plaatje Municipality, both Minister Mchunu and Premier Saul have pledged to expedite the Vaal Gamagara Phase two project. This project will be a joint venture between the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Mine Leadership Forum in the Northern Cape. It involves the laying of a 260-kilometre pipeline from the Vaal River Pump Station to serve the communities of John Taolo Gaotsewe District Municipality, a move that is expected to significantly improve water supply and distribution in the region.
During the deliberations, another critical priority emerged – the eradication of the bucket system in the Northern Cape province. As of now, the province still has approximately 7600 bucket toilets in use, a situation that both Minister Mchunu and Premier Saul are committed to rectifying. They announced that a memorandum of understanding will soon be signed to eliminate the bucket system, focusing particularly on the Campbell area under Siyancuma Local Municipality.
This multifaceted approach taken by the Minister of Water and Sanitation and the Northern Cape Premier highlights their dedication to improving essential services in the region. The establishment of the steering committee and the commitment to significant projects like the Vaal Gamagara Phase two and the eradication of bucket toilets signify a positive step towards sustainable water and sanitation solutions for the residents of Sol Plaatje Municipality and the broader Northern Cape province. With these efforts in place, there is hope for a brighter and healthier future for the region’s communities.