SA’s wa­ter sup­ply chain runs on empty

The Times (South Africa) - - NEWS - ERNEST MABUZA

WA­TER boards are at the sharp end of sup­ply­ing wa­ter to thirsty South Africa.

The coun­try would be faced with a cri­sis within 48 hours if they ceased to func­tion.

This is the view of wa­ter ex­pert An­thony Tur­ton.

He was re­act­ing to a re­port by City Press that the Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion De­part­ment has failed to pay some of its wa­ter boards‚ lead­ing to the bod­ies be­ing taken to court by un­paid ser­vice providers.

Bloem and Sed­ibeng wa­ter boards are owed a com­bined fig­ure of more than R1-bil­lion by both the De­part­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion and a num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

De­part­ment spokesman Sput­nik Ratau ad­mit­ted yes­ter­day the de­part­ment owed some wa­ter boards monies for com­mis­sioned work.

Ratau could not give an ex­act amount‚ but said mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties also owed the wa­ter boards mil­lions for ser­vices‚

Ratau said Sed­ibeng was owed the most for the emer­gency work it per­formed at the height of the drought last year on be­half of the de­part­ment.

“It is a kind of vi­cious cir­cle where the wa­ter board would be owed by the de­part­ment for work done as an im­ple­ment­ing agent‚ and the de­part­ment would also be owed for bulk wa­ter by the wa­ter board‚” Ratau said.

Tur­ton said it had been known by ex­perts for some time that some of the coun­try’s wa­ter boards were in se­vere fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

“This all points to the fact that the De­part­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion has been in sys­temic fail­ure for some time now,” Tur­ton said.

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