Money for DStv but none for mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices

The Times (South Africa) - - NEWS - OLE­BO­GENG MOLATLHWA

CON­SUMERS would rather keep up their DStv sub­scrip­tions than pay for wa­ter and other mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices.

Ac­cord­ing to Jo­han­nes­burg Wa­ter man­ag­ing direc­tor Lungile Dh­lamini, many res­i­dents of Soweto plead poverty when pay­ment for wa­ter is due but man­age to keep up their DStv sub­scrip­tions and car re­pay­ments.

Wa­ter boards across the coun­try are owed R3.67-bil­lion and the fig­ure is ris­ing ev­ery year.

Dh­lamini said Jo­han­nes­burg Wa­ter was strug­gling to con­vince Soweto res­i­dents to pay for what they con­sume.

By the end of the year Jo­han­nes­burg Wa­ter will have spent R1.6-bil­lion over 10 years on in­fra­struc­ture up­grad­ing but the re­turn on that in­vest­ment has been only R880-mil­lion, achieved mainly through re­pair­ing leak­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

The re­main­ing R720-mil­lion is lost rev­enue owed by peo­ple who refuse to pay.

Dh­lamini warned that if wa­ter were not used spar­ingly and paid for, res­i­dents might one day have to drink re­cy­cled wa­ter.

“It’s no longer enough for Jo­han­nes­burg Wa­ter to fix pipes.

“Peo­ple must pay for wa­ter. If they don’t there will be no money to re­place the pipes.

“When you drive around Soweto there is a mix­ture of peo­ple who are in­di­gent and those who plead in­di­gence but are not.

“You can’t say you’re in­di­gent and yet you run DStv and you watch SABC over pay TV. You should have free-to-air.

“You have some­one who has a car, runs DStv and you can tell that this fam­ily is able to pay for wa­ter, es­pe­cially if you in­stall a pre­paid me­ter. For R20 you can buy a lot of wa­ter,” said Dh­lamini.

“There’s also this cul­ture that says wa­ter is free, that it comes from God. We im­port wa­ter from Le­sotho be­cause we’ve ex­hausted our in­ter­nal re­sources.

“We’re about to ex­haust the first phase of the Le­sotho High­lands Project, which is why there’s talk about a sec­ond phase.”

Not in­clined to mince his words, Dh­lamini said pol­i­tics were to blame for the cur­rent im­passe in Soweto.

“His­tor­i­cally, dur­ing the strug­gle days, there were calls for dis­in­vest­ment; calls for mak­ing the then gov­ern­ment un­able to gov­ern and for peo­ple not to pay for ser­vices. “It was a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign. “Af­ter 1994 there was no clar­ion call to say to peo­ple the rea­son why we had called for this was be­cause of po­lit­i­cal rea­sons. It hasn’t been done.

“That is why we are ap­peal­ing to our po­lit­i­cal prin­ci­pals to say there has to be an ind­aba. And it’s a na­tional prob­lem, which is more acute in Jo­han­nes­burg be­cause it is more pop­u­lous,” said Dh­lamini.

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