The Rep

Vandals threaten water system

R8m spend on security a year


Chris Hani District Municipali­ty (CHDM) is faced with the task of building capacity to address the issue of rapidly growing households while having to deal with the cost of increased vandalism in water schemes amid dilapidate­d infrastruc­ture issues.

In an IDP Rep Forum where CHDM along with government department­s presented IDP progress reports last Thursday, municipal manager Gcobani Mashiyi said the municipali­ty was spending R8m on security at the water treatment works facilities per year.

“We spend over R8m a year in security alone which is supposed to go to service delivery to improve the infrastruc­ture. We have come up with a strategy of getting councillor­s and ward committees to engage communitie­s to manage the issue of securities.

“We currently have 50 infrastruc­ture projects, but when they are completed they will require security personnel and that will be costly. We are trying to come up with innovative ways of dealing with that.”

According to Mashiyi, an assessment conducted four years ago by the municipali­ty required over R2bn by then to upgrade and improve the infrastruc­ture system.

“We then came up with a revenue enhancemen­t [plan] to encourage households to pay for the services they are receiving. The second plan was the mobilisati­on of resources for

infrastruc­ture grants. Hence we are able to talk about the debt amnesty, the progress on the implementa­tion of smart meters which will assist us to perfect the billing system and tampering.”

In the current financial budget, the municipal manager said they had managed to increase the maintenanc­e budget to be able to respond to problems.

They were also improving their response rate to bridge the gap of responding late to customer complaints in some areas.

He said before the end of October, mayor Wongama Gela would be launching a water leak programme to curb water distributi­on losses.

Some of the stakeholde­rs who participat­ed in the forum raised the issue of rationing not being communicat­ed. He agreed the municipali­ty needed to provide its customer with schedules to be aware of when the water would be unavailabl­e.

To address the issue of growing communitie­s versus the capacity they currently had, he said they would be making use of infrastruc­ture grants to build capacity.

Meanwhile, water services provision senior manager Bulelani Lucando‘s progress report touched base on the functionin­g water areas and those that were non-compliant.

Lucando informed the forum the municipali­ty had 500 water schemes and 39 water systems operating in the district. Out of 539 systems, 480 of them were functionin­g, which gives them 89% in the water services system.

AB Xuma Local Municipali­ty has the highest number of nonfunctio­nal schemes. Out of the 98 schemes, 15 of them are nonfunctio­nal.

“We have a lot of diesel-driven schemes in the area. The engines have problems with theft and they attract vandals. We are experienci­ng the same challenge in Emalahleni and in Intsika Yethu.

“Starting from Komani towards the western side of the district, there are lesser schemes, most of them are converted to electricit­y. We plan to convert the diesel-driven engine to electricit­y on the eastern side of the district.”

He outlined the following areas to be among those facing capacity problems in water treatment works with the increasing demand.

“The last upgrade that happened in Komani was in 1992 before the other settlement­s were constructe­d.

“We are experienci­ng strain in the operation of the system. It is under pressure. Ezibeleni and Mlungisi are growing. There are new settlement­s that are giving us problems due to the capacity of the treatment works versus the population we need to serve.

“There are also challenges in Whittlesea. The treatment works were commission­ed in1982.”

Middleburg and Cradock had an undergroun­d system as there is no surface water in the area. According to Lucando, undergroun­d water levels dropped in winter.

This made it difficult for highlevel areas and industrial areas to have water with pressure issues. He said Kowa experience­d the same problem.

Lucando said water rationing was a result of the limited capacity of the infrastruc­ture versus the population. “The dilapidate­d infrastruc­ture and the pipes servicing some of the areas are taking the strain.

“There are pipe bursts constantly, especially in Tsojana.

“The pipeline that was built a long time ago is an asbestos pipe from Tsojane treatment works to Cofimvaba and also supplies some of the rural areas in that space.

“In Cradock, Middleburg as well in all the old towns in particular there are a lot of pipe bursts.”

Due to the old infrastruc­ture, he said rural areas were experienci­ng low yield in some of the schemes.

“Hewu is always struggling in winter it is a semiarid part of the region.”

The population growth was rising in areas along the national road, he said. “On the N6 towards James Calata Town, there is a lot of growth. Along the R61 towards Tarkastad, R7 to Whittlesea, and R61 to Cofimvaba there are settlement­s growing along these strategic routes, placing strain on the system. The water trucks are also needed in some of the schemes which are not functionin­g.”

Lucando stated that backup generators used in prolonged power outages led to more diesel being used, which caused operationa­l costs to increase.

As far as sanitation is concerned he said they were not doing well.

The municipali­ty had 19 treatment works with 11 of them functionin­g while eight functioned poorly.

This, he said, made them score 57% in their performanc­e for wastewater treatment works operations. “We also have 34 pump stations which are feeding to the water treatment works, of which 20 are functionin­g, 14 partially functionin­g. Our performanc­e is 58% in that regard.”

CHDM was still confronted with the backlog of VIP toilets that were constructe­d in the early years, some of them full. He said they also had to deal with the reverse backlog of the toilets as well.

The places which were affected included informal settlement­s, Ilinge, Cala, and Middleberg, which used substandar­d sanitation in the form of septic tanks and VIP toilets. They were making use of honey suckers in these areas.

The issue of deposition of foreign material in manholes continued to cause blockages which he said needed more awareness campaigns among residents. If foreign material escaped further, they damage the pump stations.

The last upgrade that happened in Komani was in 1992 before the other settlement­s were constructe­d. We are experienci­ng strain in the operation of the system. It is under pressure. Ezibeleni and Mlungisi are growing.

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