The North West Provincial Steering Committee led by the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, has received an assessment report on the state of water and sanitation service provision in the province and has instructed the Committee’s Technical Task Team to start prioritising critical projects that will ensure immediate restoration of water in areas with existing infrastructure in the province.The assessment report was tabled to the Steering Committee attended by the co-chair, Premier Bushy Maape, Deputy Minister David Mahlobo, executive mayors from both district and local municipalities, the Magalies Water Board, traditional leaders and community leaders from various municipalities in the province. Minister Mchunu said the report has painted a clear picture that the province has enough sources of water, both on surface and groundwater to support domestic and other users, however huge infrastructural challenges in various parts of the province impeded the resource to be transferred the users. Most of the challenges identified stemmed from lack of capacity, skills and budget to carry out operations and maintenance, illegal connections, incomplete projects and infrastructure vandalism in the Water Service Authorities (WSAs) and municipalities’ reticulation systems. “The task team will now start the process of prioritising projects for immediate interventions and get commitments from all role-players to enable the work to go ahead as we need to pump water to the people and put this water crisis in the North West behind us. “There is extensive work lying ahead, and this collaborative process will enable our plans to take off with speed to restore water and sanitation services in the province. The task team should be able to provide us with this roadmap by next Monday,” Minister Mchunu said. Minister Mchunu said a roadmap emanating from the assessment report will now be developed outlining immediate and long-term plans with clear sources of funds to finance the projects, timelines and roles that all stakeholders will play to ensure the work on the plan is fully executed. The roadmap will focus on prioritising refurbishment of the current existing infrastructure including resuscitation of non-functioning boreholes and temporary supply through water tankering for immediate supply in communities where the situation is dire, while the long term plans will involve the development of bulk water services infrastructure, Water Treatment Works, Reservoirs, Waste Water Treatment Works, pump stations, reticulation, as well as operations and maintenance of the whole water value chain systems in the province.
The Minister also instructed the task team to consider involving the business sector and traditional leaders in the process, as they played an essential role in infrastructure development, protection and management.“Business sector, including agriculture and mining, as well as traditional leaders need to form part of these engagements to ensure that they are involved in resolving the challenges of this province. This is with the view of exploring public-private partnerships to fast-track the interventions required to alleviate these challenges.” Premier Maape commended the task team for the swift and comprehensive report and said after this process there was need for a promptness from all spheres of government to be responsive and to quickly address community needs. “We are very happy with the progress and the work that the task team have done in this short space of time. Now we need to make our plans feasible if we want to ensure sustainability, and as a province I will also look at what structures do we have that can be activated in order to fast-rack these interventions and provide water to our people,” the Premier committed. Minister Mchunu last month established a Provincial Political Steering Committee, that is co-chaired by him and Premier Bushy Maape, to address water and sanitation challenges that is being experienced in the province. The Minister also set up a technical task team that is comprised of technical expects from the Department of Water and Sanitation, Magalies Water Board, as well as the provincial, district and local government, and assigned the Water and Sanitation Services Deputy-Director General, Risimati Mathye to lead the process of assessing, planning and implementing water and sanitation interventions in order to alleviate the challenges in the whole province. The task team have been converging on weekly meetings to devise a strategy on how best to provide permanent water and sanitation solutions to the communities across the province. The purpose was to identify water and sanitation challenges across the province and identify short- and long-term solutions, critical areas and put necessary plans for immediate interventions.