Vandalism & Theft Affects Water Supply

Pretoria - The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation says the continuing vandalism and theft of valves, copper and transformers has a direct bearing on water shortages in many municipalities across South Africa.

The committee visited Madibeng Local Municipality in the North West to get a first-hand account of the continuing water and sanitation challenges there.

Committee chair Mlungisi Johnson on Thursday said theft and vandalism of water infrastructure weighed negatively on municipalities' budgets, as money had to be diverted towards the replacement of stolen parts.

The committee called on all stakeholders, including the community, the justice and crime prevention cluster and businesspeople, to work together to solve the problem.

Johnson said while infrastructure projects are necessary and welcome, as they will assist in solving problems in the municipality, maintenance of the infrastructure remains a challenge.

"Maintenance of the infrastructure will prolong the lifespan of water supply infrastructure, and there is an urgent need for a collaborative effort by all government departments, from national to local level, to remedy this situation," said Johnson.

The committee said the challenges it witnessed this week during similar visits are symptomatic of the challenges across the country.

"While these challenges need urgent action, the committee noted the negative impact caused by the high rates of vandalism and theft to water infrastructure that is adding to the already critical challenges," it said.

Within Madibeng, the committee said it noted and appreciated various infrastructure projects underway, such as the R63.7-million Wastewater Infrastructure Refurbishment Project and the refurbishment of water supply pumps at various areas.

The committee also noted progress in terms of water services and that the matter has been identified as a number one priority in the municipality's Integrated Development Plan (IDP).

The committee urged the provincial and national Departments of Water and Sanitation to ramp up their interventions within Madibeng and many other municipalities that have inadequate infrastructure to supply quality water.

Several interventions are being carried out in Madibeng, including the upgrading of infrastructure at the Rietfontein Sewage Plant.

"We hope that the three months deadline set to complete the upgrades will be met and the committee will make a follow-up on the issue in efforts to ensure that the spillages and lack of capacity at the plant are resolved," Johnson said.

While the Blue Drop score for the municipality has improved, the committee said more must be done to ensure that the quality of water in Madibeng improves.

The committee said it will strengthen its oversight role not only in Madibeng, but across the country to ensure that similar challenges are addressed.

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