SA Government wages war on water leaks

Port Elizabeth – With South Africa losing more than R7 billion worth of water annually due to leaking taps and pipes, government is embarking on a massive drive to curb the problem.

This was evident when President Jacob Zuma led a powerful delegation consisting of Ministers and MECs to the launch of the War on Water Leaks programme in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

The campaign is designed to train 15 000 young people to fix leaking taps in their communities. There will also be those who will be trained to identify aged infrastructure which is also being blamed for the problem.

The President kick-started the campaign in the Zwide township and it’s expected to be rolled out throughout the country.

He said a long-term national water plan was needed to address future needs of water and sanitation.

“I said to the Minister we need a clear plan that government will commit on to save water,” President Zuma said to the scores of people who came to listen to him at Dan Qeqe stadium.

He said the War on Water Leaks programme will enable government to provide training opportunities to unemployed young people who can be trained as water agents.

“They will be responsible for visiting communities to investigate water leaks and teach people to save water.

“We will also train plumbers who will assist to do a number of things such as reducing water losses and repairing the sources of the leaks,” he said.

Those who will qualifying are young people with Grade 12 or N3 with Maths and Science as fitters and turners, welders, instrument mechanics and electricians. They will do repairs, retrofitting and replacements.

“Our key message to you today is that we must save water. Water is not unlimited. If we do not look after it, we will lose it.”

R680 million budgeted for the campaign

During the campaign, young people will be trained in three phases. Phase 1 will see 3 000 trained in the 2015/16 financial year, 5 000 in Phase 2 in 2016/17 and 7000 in phase 3 in the 2017/18 financial year. About R680 million has been budgeted in the current financial year.

President Zuma said the Department of Water and Sanitation has committed funding for the construction of the Nooitgedacht Water Scheme to increase water supply in the municipality.

Construction has commenced and is scheduled for completion in February 2017.

Poor homes pay heavily

Earlier, President Zuma visited the home of Cynthia Ncapayi in Zwide whose water bill ran into several thousands of rands. It emerged that water leaks were mainly to blame for the high bill which the family is now unable to pay.

Similar cases were being reported throughout the townships and the metro.

Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Danny Jordan said the Nelson Mandela Metro, which includes Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch municipalities, was a water scarce region.

“We have a very serious challenge, it is for this reason that we took a decision to invest more to secure water as a key resource for this metro. We are very happy that the President is here to launch this war,” Jordan said.

“In our area as a metro, we must address the question of water leaks. The many high bills people have for water are not as result of their use of water but the inability of the municipality to tackle water leaks,” he said.

District municipalities lack capacity

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said 27 district municipalities in the country were in a dire state in terms of water capacity.

“Working together with the water boards, we will train youngsters, give term accreditation through SITAs and they will be attached to our different water boards, that will help us with capacity,” Minister Mokonyane said.

She added that many young people will also be placed in district municipalities where interventions are needed.