‘Govern­ment’s wa­ter tankers’ aren’t re­ally theirs

CityPress - - News - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­press.co.za

Six large wa­ter tankers bear­ing the state em­blem and de­scribed by wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane as “state prop­erty” are, in fact, rented.

The six white trucks, fit­ted with large tanks, were brought in to save money for North West’s ail­ing Ngaka Modiri Molema District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity – which has been spend­ing what Mokonyane said was “not less than R40 mil­lion a year” on wa­ter-tanker ten­ders.

The “new” trucks are also a large part of the na­tional in­ter­ven­tion cur­rently un­der way, aimed at ad­dress­ing the es­ca­lat­ing wa­ter-short­age cri­sis coun­try­wide.

Mokonyane handed over the trucks to Premier Supra Mahumapelo in De­cem­ber, say­ing gov­ern­ment had spent more than R1 mil­lion on each ve­hi­cle.

“Th­ese trucks are much cheaper com­pared with what gov­ern­ment is spend­ing on ten­ders for wa­ter tanker­ing. Since these are state-owned as­sets, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment will use them on the ba­sis of its wa­ter-pro­vi­sion plan...” said Mokonyane in gov­ern­ment-is­sued me­dia state­ments.

“Th­ese tankers be­long to the state. They cost at least R1.3 mil­lion each, fully fit­ted with all the re­quire­ments.”

How­ever, some dig­ging by City Press has re­vealed that none of the six trucks is state-owned. They are, ac­cord­ing to ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion records, owned by com­pa­nies in KwaZulu-Natal.

Water and san­i­ta­tion de­part­ment spokesper­son Sput­nik Ratau con­firmed last week the trucks were “rented”.

“The ac­qui­si­tion of these trucks must be seen as part of the short-term res­o­lu­tion to as­sist the af­fected mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to deal with the im­pact of the cur­rent drought sit­u­a­tion.

“The [de­part­ment] has rented these tankers, which will be in use by the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties while the de­part­ment will work to­wards the long-term ac­qui­si­tion of such tankers.

“Such ac­qui­si­tion [is] meant to as­sist with the re­duc­tion of the over­all costs of wa­ter tanker­ing to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties,” he said.

Two weeks ago, City Press sent ques­tions to the de­part­ment of wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion, ask­ing which com­pany was awarded the con­tract for the wa­ter tankers. The de­part­ment did not re­veal that in­for­ma­tion.

Ngaka Modiri Molema mu­nic­i­pal­ity is in­fa­mous for spend­ing mil­lions on wa­ter tanker­ing while mov­ing at a snail’s pace on long-term in­fra­struc­ture projects.

“The de­part­ment en­tered into an agree­ment for the pro­vi­sion of emer­gency ser­vices in­de­pen­dently with the pre­ferred ser­vice provider,” said Ratau.

PHOTO: MATH­EWS LONKOK­ILE

FOR HIRE A ‘state-owned’ wa­ter tanker de­liv­ers wa­ter at Mak­go­b­is­tad vil­lage in the Rat­lou Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in North West, which is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing se­vere wa­ter short­ages

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