The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is calling on government to make the appropriate funds available for the rehabilitation of the Vaal River in Emfuleni.

According to the organisation, government still has not given the South African National Defence Force the funding it needs to help repair the Emfuleni Municipality’s sewage system which has fallen into disrepair causing raw sewage to flow into the Vaal River.

Outa allegedly visited Emfuleni this week to see the progress and the organisation notes that soldiers are camping at treatment plants and pump stations, guarding facilities and making repairs and while tanks are being emptied, sludge remains at the bottom due to a lack of appropriate machinery.

SANDF still awaiting funds

According Outa, the SANDF says its team drew up a detailed technical assessment and plan with a projected cost of R873 million and presented this to the National Treasury, the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency, Emfuleni Local Municipality, Sedibeng District Municipality, Rand Water and the Gauteng Provincial Government but they are still awaiting funding for the intervention.

“Although OUTA welcomes the assistance from the SANDF, it seems the intervention was a knee jerk reaction by national Government,” says Michael Holenstein, OUTA’s manager for the Local Division.

“If the military was sent there, then the funding should have been arranged by now,” he continues.

Military requirements

Holenstein notes that the SANDF’s Major General Thembelani Xundu made the military’s requirements clear including:

  • Certainty on funding in line with Minister Mboweni’s mid-term Budget announcement
  • Access to heavy machinery such as a vacuum combination truck and trailer and,
  • Support from all stakeholders.
“We call on the Cabinet to work with National Treasury to arrange the funds, and to use this to improve SANDF resources. Keep the private contractors out, the risks of fronting, looting and backhanders are just too high,” adds.

“Emfuleni is an emergency. The SANDF reacted immediately when called on, and we’d like to see Government backing up that action with the promised funds. We look forward to seeing the solutions in the State of the Nation Address and Budget 2019,” Holenstein concludes. 

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