Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu has called for collaborative efforts from different stakeholders to expedite the improvement of water and sanitation infrastructure in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.This follows a stakeholder engagement meeting with Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for COGTA, Mr Sihle Zikalala, Executive Mayor of eThekwini, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, uMgeni Water and other stakeholders, held in eThekwini to discuss interventions to water and sanitation challenges faced by the metro. Minister Mchunu is in KZN on 02 – 04 December 2022, to meet with various stakeholders including all three spheres of government, water entities and water service authorities to assess progress on projects currently being undertaken in the province, and to discuss ways to address the state of water and sanitation provision. “Collectively here, we need to find mechanism to deal with the challenges the city is currently faced with. We need to start embracing collaborations and partnerships with the private sector as soon as possible as a new way of dealing with service delivery, because depending only on fiscus alone, it will take us years to adequately address these problems,” the Minister said. Minister Mchunu also recommended for an establishment of a strong technical team that will enable the municipality to work with other role players, to carry out the work forward. “The importance of partnership if very crucial because all of us have to work together to enhance the provision of services to the people of eThekwini. The establishment of a technical team is also equally important to assist in identifying sources of money, allocate specific timelines to the projects, and deliver within those timelines. The technical team should be service delivery oriented and will work with various other stakeholders to determine a way-forward in addressing issues of infrastructure in the municipality,” said the Minister. Minister Mchunu said following the floods, a substantial progress on the assessment in eThekwini was done by the Department since last year, and it has been established that there is a need to strengthen capacity at the municipality to be able to address the concerns of poor infrastructure, and to ensure equitable access to water in eThekwini.
Funding for infrastructure was also highlighted to be the main critical issue during the meeting, and it was recommended that funding and an implementation of infrastructure investment should be prioritised.“Funding is an enabler and makes things happen, and as DWS we need to come up with a model that will encourage partnership with the public sector. With the establishment of a technical team, there will also be will also be engagements with Treasury to iron out issues of funding”. Minister Mchunu said there were masses of people who still do not have access to water in this municipality and the narrative must change. He added that the Department was concerned about the state of the infrastructure that has caused pollution to the rivers in eThekwini municipality. Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, the Executive Mayor of eThekwini Municipality reiterated the call to facilitate funding with various stakeholders and private entities. “We will be working with various stakeholders to ensure that funding is secured for infrastructure development in eThekwini. We are also planning to accelerate this process by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Water and Sanitation”, he said. The MEC of COGTA, Sihle Zikalala implored the City to prioritise the issue of Non-Revenue Water which was also the main point of contention in eThekwini Municipality. Non-revenue water in the city which is high by 57%. Only 40% of water that is purchased is billed and of that which is billed, less than 70% is paid. A factor contributing to high non-revenue water is +80 000 customers that are illegally connected to the water network as well as leaks.