Sol Plaatje inaction risks funding for water infrastructure repairs

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Also read: DA Mayor to head up Gamagara municipality

After dragging its feet in respect of water infrastructure upgrades and maintenance, Sol Plaatje municipality stands to lose grant funding that is desperately needed to alleviate ongoing water challenges.

This follows two postponements of scheduled water shutdowns for Kimberley, for infrastructure upgrades and repair work. The failure to comply with the end of May 2023 deadline for completion of Phase 1 of the project, is in violation of the set grant conditions. The R2 billion Water Services Infrastructure Grant (WSIG), or at least a part thereof, now hangs in the balance.

Sol Plaatje has a poor track record in management of grant funding and recently also experienced a reduction of almost R20 million in the WSIG and the Integrated National Electrification Programme (INEP).

While the current situation significantly threatens the long-term resolution of Kimberley’s debilitating water challenges, it also puts residents at risk of an unscheduled water shutdown due to the growing possibility that Sol Plaatje may have to initiate emergency repair work at short notice.

This was confirmed during an oversight inspection to the Riverton Water Purification Plant yesterday, whereby I observed a critical leak at the new pump station. If left unattended, it could flood the pump house. This could again cause a repeat of the water crisis experienced in December last year, when residents were left without water for up to ten days, without any prior warning.

Other critical, outstanding work, urgently required to address the city’s annual losses of over 60% of potable water, includes identifying leaks along the Riverton to Kimberley pipeline and installing an above ground pipeline at Newton Reservoir, to replace the constantly leaking pipeline below ground.

The DA is demanding answers in respect of what the missed deadline will cost Sol Plaatje. We are also still waiting for clarity on the costs incurred for the two previously postponed water shutdowns, for which contractors, equipment and catering of staff were already pre-arranged.

Sol Plaatje owes it to Kimberley residents to immediately get to work on fixing the city’s water infrastructure and must be held accountable for every cent wasted.


Also read: DA Mayor to head up Gamagara municipality