The delegation of the North West’s permanent delegates to the NCOP has unequivocally expressed its discontent regarding the slow pace of the completion of the construction and refurbishments of the bulk wastewater development infrastructure projects in the North West Province.
North West Province is one of the water scarce provinces in South Africa. The province has the potential to develop top-notch modernized bulk wastewater treatment plants if the provincial and the local government can all focus on turning the current poor state of affairs in many district and local municipalities.
The delegation received a briefing yesterday in Madebeng Local Municipality on the state of wastewater treatment plants in the province from the provincial government. The delegation heard that several bulk wastewater treatment plants in the province have reached their design life span and are failing to cope with the increased demand for water and sanitation services to the local communities.
The delegation heard that across the province, this has resulted to many bulk wastewater treatment plants to constantly experience sewer spillages, burst water pipes and leakages, malfunctioning pump stations and contaminated natural water sources among other things.
Throughout the week, the NCOP delegation received briefings on the province’s identified bulk wastewater infrastructure development treatment plants under the theme of this year’s NCOP Provincial Week: “Building viable provincial and municipal infrastructure for effective delivery of services to communities.”
The plants were the Groot Marico Water Waste Treatment Plant, Zeerust Water Waste Treatment Plant, Potchefstroom Bulk Water Supply and Moretele South Bulk Water Supply Project. Notwithstanding the challenges that include funding, stop and start of the contractors on site, shortage of machinery and construction, shortage of prerequisite expertise and experience, the delegation was provided with completion and hand over dates that will take place early in 2024.
Most of the contractors have reported that they have increased capacities regarding the required resources needed by the projects to accelerate the pace with which the projects move to complete them within the revised target dates.
The delegation stated its concerns regarding the commitments made for completion and handing over of the projects as some of them took more than ten years to be completed and so the sudden change and the guarantee to conclude these projects within the short space of time is raising eyebrows as it seems impossible to complete them within the targeted timelines, in particular for the bigger projects.
The delegation is also concerned about the low local employment figures in these infrastructure projects despite large sums of funds being invested by the province which include the outsourcing of the work to external contractors who do not transfer skills to the province and depriving the local small-to-medium enterprises. The delegation is particularly concerned about the growing trend of building new infrastructure projects without maintaining the existing ones.
With all these concerns, the delegation requested the provincial government to provide an updated report on the completion timelines for all the bulk wastewater projects. The report should include an update on employment and skills transfer plan for local SMMEs and individuals to be submitted to the NCOP on or before 31 October 2023.
‘’It is clear that there are problems in all the wastewater treatment plants and other related projects and we are unhappy with the stumbling blocks, fraud and corruption reports, and no consiquence management. Water is life and so we must all be concerned with the slow pace in completion of the projects. However, we are inspired by the commitment of the provincial government to overcome all these challenges.” Said the leader of the delegation, Mr China Dodovu.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.