Minister Senzo Mchunu addressed the concerning delays in Sekhukhune District Municipality water projects with stakeholders.
Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has expressed his concern over significant delays in the implementation of crucial water infrastructure projects set to benefit the communities of Sekhukhune District Municipality in Limpopo.
Key projects, namely the Mouse Water Supply Scheme and the Olifants Management Model Programme (OMM), have faced setbacks, prompting Mchunu to call for immediate action.
In a meeting with stakeholders, including Executive Mayor Minah Bahula and the Lebalelo Water Users Association (WUA), Mchunu highlighted the urgency of addressing the long-standing water supply challenges in Mouse under the Elias Motsoaledi Municipality.
Swift finalization needed – Mchunu
The Moutse Water Supply Scheme, currently 97% complete, requires swift finalization to expedite water supply to Moutse communities and surrounding areas.
The Olifants Management Model Programme (OMM), a R27-billion infrastructure development project launched last October, is a 50/50 public-private partnership between the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and Lebalelo WUA.
Minister Mchunu emphasised the need for a steering committee, involving both political and technical expertise, to ensure the project’s progress, develop catch-up plans, and implement interim measures.
The OMM programme aims to construct, operate, and maintain bulk water infrastructure from Flag Boshielo and De Hoop dams, providing potable water to approximately 52,000 households in Sekhukhune District and Mogalakwena Local Municipality.
Mchunu says processes in place to ‘safeguard against corruption’
Speaking on the delays, Mchunu stated: “There is a plan to appoint a project contractor by 2025, and stringent processes are in place to safeguard against corruption. The steering committee will play a pivotal role in overseeing the Olifants Management Model Programme and ensuring efficient progress.”
In a separate investigation, Mchunu addressed an R143-million drought relief project initiated in 2020 to tackle water supply challenges in Moutse.
Forensic findings revealed issues such as infrequent water deliveries, theft of water tanks, and a lack of accountability.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found no irregularities in the procurement processes but recommended joint engagement between Lepelle Northern Water (LNW) and Sekhukhune District Municipality to ensure consistent water supply and monitor distribution.
“Our priority is to address the immediate water supply needs of the affected communities,” Minister Mchunu affirmed during his engagement with the community of Moutse. “We are committed to finalizing these projects, and the steering committee will play a crucial role in ensuring accountability and efficient project management.“
Systemic problems in municipalities
Meanwhile, as the country’s water supply reaches the point of collapse, the absence of access to safe running water and proper sanitation infrastructure marks the potential downfall of a functioning society. Water resources scientist Carin Bosman said issues of clean water supply were countrywide, reflecting a systemic problem in all municipalities.
According to Bosman, the lack of clean water provision had resulted in high infant mortality rates.
“In Limpopo, we see children still having a ‘bucket festival’ and kids are dying,” she said.