Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, has reiterated his commitment to assist Matjhabeng Local Municipality and other municipalities across the country in addressing challenges that hinder the provision of services to communities.

This commitment was made by the minister during his visit to Free State province, where he met various water and sanitation stakeholders in an effort to improve water and sanitation provision in the province.

This comes after Matjhabeng Local Municipality presented a sophisticated security plan to prohibit the scourge of vandalism of infrastructure – which has affected many municipalities. The vandalism of water and sanitation infrastructure has adverse effects on the provision of services to the public.

The recently released Green Drop report by the Department of Water and Sanitation reported that 10 out of the 11 Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) in Matjhabeng Local Municipalities are in a critical state. All of these WWTW have been vandalised after they were left malfunctioning, \ due to a lack of operations and maintenance.

The municipality reported to the minister that the theft and vandalism had become a major emerging challenge that the municipalities are battling. Matjhabeng Executive Mayor, Cllr Thanduxolo David Khalipha said looting and sabotage had overcome the municipality before his tenure.

“In the Auditor General’s report, it was found that there was planned sabotage and malice involved in the decay of the municipalities’ infrastructure. The Auditor-General himself has opened a case against the transgressors which is currently under investigation by the Hawks,” said Khalipha.

Security measures

Additionally, Khalipha said the municipality will be appointing 160 security guards dedicated to securing the WWTW in Matjhabeng and further appoint a specialised unit that will look into the damaged infrastructure.

The extent of the damage ranges from cutting steel pipes, theft of motors, electric cables, fencing, and tempering with telemetry systems and pressure control valves.

To curb vandalism for the plants that will be refurbished through DWS intervention, Matjhabeng will put various security measures in place. All refurbished plants will be fitted with monitored fencing, armed security, CCTV cameras with a central control room, facial recognition and fingerprint reader, automated number plate recognition system. Three-layered fencing will also be set up at all sight and a review of municipal by-laws will ensue to clearly define public, private, and municipal spaces.

These measures are set to be implemented in 3 phases and should run concurrently with the refurbishment and upgrading of the plants.

Minister Mchunu emphasised that the municipality needs to account for the upgrades and do proper operations and maintenance so that the work done at the cost to the taxpayer is not in vain.

Related stories: Free State water and sanitation issues receive national attention | Infrastructure news

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