The delays in the upgrading of the James Kleynhans water treatment works in Makhanda in the Eastern Cape are a cause for concern for the Department of Water and Sanitation.
Minister Senzo Mchunu concluded a two-day oversight visit to the province in Makhanda, where he assessed the project.
The upgrade was implemented in 2015 but has experienced a number of delays.
In the meantime, Makhanda residents have been plagued by water shortages due to a treatment capacity shortfall.
A six year wait for residents of this municipality.
This project was due to be completed in March this year. The deadline is now December due to problems around contractors.
Mchunu says this issue is very concerning.
“The delays are very concerning because its not the national that appoints, there are different stakeholders and this issue is happening in other municipalities too. This is an issue that we will need to discuss and make sure that competent contractors are hired. If they do not finish in time, there should be consequences.”
However, residents of Makhanda are hoping for the project to be completed soon, as they continue to live with an intermittent water supply.
“We continue to suffer days on end without water. When there is water, we sorry and get it in bulks, because we know it’s only for a while. This is causing huge problems and we don’t know when it will end.”
“We do get running water everyday. But they cut it in the evening. Our main concern though is leaks. If you walk down the streets you are likely to see sewage coming out of burst pipes or a leaking tap, no one is attending to that.”
The James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works is operating and provides about 10 mega-litres of water a day, but together with the Waainek Treatment Plant, it does not satisfy the demand.
Makana Municipality Mayor Yandisa Vara elaborates.
“We had challenges finishing this plant but even though it is not finished, I can confirm that it supplies 10 mega-litres of water a day. A number of our communities do get water on a daily basis. There are those that are still suffering and we need to find out what the problem is.”
During the oversight visit to the region, Minister Mchunu also lifted the Section 63 intervention the department placed on the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro last year when they came close to a day zero scenario due to the drought.
This move allowed the minister to get directly involved at municipal level to ensure services like water delivery remain functional.
“It has been an honour to be part and assist this world class city that is known across the world because of the name bestowed to it. We would like to see this name rising higher in a good way and bring more investment to the city. We hope that after our exit, the metro does not regress and is able to maintain the status quo with all the interventions that have been put in place.”
Despite the exit of the National Department of Water and Sanitation from the metro, the call to continue to use water sparingly remains.