Emfuleni Local Municipality’s inability to service its debt has resulted in Rand Water taking extreme action, threatening to reduce water supply to 20% of the amount the municipality usually receives.
On Wednesday, Rand Water sent a letter to the municipality, indicating its intention to cut the supply due to failure by the municipality to pay off its current debt of R419 million.
Rand Water spokesperson Justice Mohale said water supply had already been cut off at Mbombela Local Municipality and had been reduced at Bushbuckridge Local Municipality.
“When we display the intent to cut off supply, we receive positive responses from officials and they agree to pay, but when the time comes, they don’t pay,” he said.
Mohale said Rand Water had been in constant communication with Emfuleni municipality and had a payment agreement, which the municipality had failed to honour.
“We have, on many occasions, had meetings with the Emfuleni municipality about this issue, which they have always promised to attend to. We are also quite sensitive with regards to the impact this will have on communities and how this will affect them,” said Mohale.
Emfuleni spokesperson Stanley Gaba said the municipality was battling to maintain its historical debt of R419 million – and had voluntarily reduced its water supply to 15% of what it usually received.
“This was an effort to curb the ever-increasing monthly current account. The 20% bulk supply interruption by Rand Water will mean 5% more to the already-made effort,” he said.
Gaba highlighted that the municipality was consistent in paying its current water account.
“The payments are not enough to reduce the debt, as expected. The account has not been gaining interest since servicing of the debt and has remained constant.
“The municipality needs to generate more revenue from the residents to pay off the historical debt,” said Gaba.
He noted that the money generated from residents was not enough to pay off the debt.
“The municipality has intensified its effort to collect revenue, however, given the high level of unemployment, it remains difficult to service the debt,” he said.
Department of water and sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said failure to generate revenue from residents was a major factor contributing to water debt.