Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, has directed the department to prepare a Cabinet Memo seeking permission and approval for the department to intervene and assist the Emfuleni Local Municipality to manage water services infrastructure.
“What this means is that, because of the challenges of capacity within the municipality, the Department of Water and Sanitation will be responsible for the management of water within the municipality and assist the municipality to provide the necessary capacity,” Sisulu said.
Sisulu met with community leaders of the Emfuleni Local Municipality on Tuesday to address their concerns and received an update on the progress made by the Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT) since its deployment.
Accompanied by municipal officials, senior officials of the department and ERWAT, the Minister led a meeting which comprised environmental organisation Save the Vaal Environment and other members of the community.
The meeting follows Sisulu’s visit to the Vaal River Intervention Project last week.
“Having been here last week and heard concerns raised by the community, I have received a clearer understanding of the challenges you are faced with and I will be convening solutions,” Sisulu assured the community leaders.
|Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu
In addition to the management of water within the municipality, Sisulu said Rand Water and ERWAT, as the two implementing agents of the project, will now report directly to her on their continued intervention in the Vaal.
Rand Water is responsible for upgrading of three wastewater treatment plants in order to add more capacity, while ERWAT is responsible for the network and for ensuring functional waste water works and pumping
Responding to some of the issues raised by the community, including the promises made by former Minister Gugile Nkwinti for training and work opportunities for the communities, Sisulu said the promises will be included as part of the Cabinet Memo to seek Cabinet approval for the intervention, and ask for budgetary support from National Treasury.
“In the meantime however, my department will start engaging with the community on the details of how the community can work together with Save the Vaal Environment leadership to clean the Vaal, the rivers and the streams around this area,” the Minister said.
The Minister assured the meeting that her interventions in this regard are already being implemented by the department, including the fast-tracking of the necessary water use licence to facilitate the conversion of waste for agricultural purposes.
| Former Minister Gugile Nkwinti
She also expressed a sincere appreciation to members of the community for the support given to the department and ERWAT in cleaning up of the Vaal River.
The Minister further agreed to a suggestion for a continuous sharing of information, education and awareness efforts within communities and civil society to continue its watchdog efforts to ensure accountability, tracking and ensuring accountability of polluters to safe guard the environment and resource.
Meanwhile, the meeting resolved that there will no longer be a pursuit of government through the courts in order to allow space for the Intervention to take root, and for the stakeholders to adequately set up credible working partnerships