Alex Japho Matlala
2 minute read
15 Aug 2019
6:25 am

Calls for probe as Limpopo water projects dry up

Alex Japho Matlala

The Capricorn district municipality has abandoned five water projects worth close to R50 million, and the poor still don't have running water.

Dry tap. Picture: AFP / File / Peter PARKS

The water crisis in far- flung Blouberg in Limpopo’s Capricorn district municipality looks set to continue as the district has abandoned five water projects worth close to R50 million.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Blouberg yesterday wrote to the public protector requesting an investigation into possible collusion in the awarding of the tender and why the projects were abandoned.

The party said it could confirm R47 million was set aside to fund five water projects in the municipality in the 2015-2016 financial year.

“The cash injection was billed to thwart the continuing thirst for clean, running water among the drought-stricken villagers,” DA caucus leader in Blouberg local municipality Minkie Tjumane said.

The affected villages are Letswatla, Pax, Schoongesight, Essorinca and Uitkyk 1 and 2.

“Our month-long investigations revealed that although some of the projects were nearing completion, most service providers failed to connect the pipes from the source to the community.

“We also found that taps were laid bare on the ground without any water in them and that most had already been vandalised,” she said.

“Our paramount concern is that in this day and age, the poorest of the poor are still forced to dig deep in their pockets to buy water from the well-off with boreholes in their yards, while millions of rands has been spent on failed water projects.

“Those without money are forced to fetch dirty water from rivers and springs, which are also used by wild animals, for their household needs.

“We are scared this dirty water is contaminated with opportunistic, waterborne diseases and will kill people if not well treated before use.

“This is not a war. All we want is for the public protector to investigate the matter and come back to us with the findings.

“We also want the Capricorn district municipality to recoup all the money paid to contractors who abandoned the projects.”

But the municipality brushed off the DA’s claims yesterday, saying they were immaterial.

The municipality said the water shortages in the area were due to insufficient groundwater, an increase in irrigation farming and exposure to livestock. It added that communities in some high-lying areas were at times affected as there was not enough water yielded by the source.

Jabu Masondo, Capricorn district municipality’s communications manager, said: “We have added more boreholes in some areas to increase the water capacity from the source.”

In some areas, the boreholes still need to be electrified by Eskom and after the power was connected people would have enough water for day-to-day household needs, he added.

Masondo advised the DA to consult the relevant structures “before jumping the gun”.

He cited these as the council and the municipal accounts committee which, he said, often played an oversight role in municipal projects.

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