The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation welcomes the progress in the reconfiguration of water boards and calls for the process to lead to tangible results of operational efficiency and better access to water for communities. The committee today received an update on the progress undertaken to reconfigure water boards.
“We remain of the view that the reconfiguration should not be a tick-box exercise to present a façade of action but must be an effective intervention that improves and enhances institutional efficiencies, rationalise the number of institutions, ensure economies of scale and remove challenges of various boards serving one province. The committee will continue to monitor progress on the reconfiguration and has urged the department to continue stakeholder engagement to ensure collaboration,” said Mr Robert Mashego, the Chairperson of the committee.
As the process unfolds, the committee has welcomed assurances that the department is in constant engagement with key stakeholders including labour, municipalities, and provinces The committee is of the view that improved and constant engagement will remove the confusion experienced when some areas were serviced by more than one water board.
Furthermore, the reconfiguration should serve as a platform for improved relationships and financial viability of water boards. Financial viability of water boards remains a critical concern for the committee as it is directly linked to their ability to raise investment capital for bulk water infrastructure development to ensure access to water for all.
“The reality is that the country’s water infrastructure is old and requires massive investment to alleviate huge water losses. To overcome this challenge, water service authorities must pay for services rendered to ensure financial viability of these institutions. This reconfiguration process presents an opportunity for further engagement on how water services authorities pay for services rendered,” Mr Mashego emphasised.
With regard to governance, the committee welcomes the assurance that all boards excluding Amatola Water, is in place. The committee hopes the legal impediment with regard to Amatola Water will be resolved with urgency to ensure that a permanent board is appointed. Furthermore, the committee has called for the speedy appointment of a permanent Chief Executive at Amatola, Vall Central and Umgeni-Uthukela Water to ensure steady implementation of targets.
Meanwhile, the committee welcome the assurance that all Water Boards have made considerable effort to comply with the departmental corporate plan and shareholder compact format. The committee also welcomed the assurance that the department is developing an improved oversight model to strengthen oversight on governance and financial performance which will lead to better service delivery. The committee is hopeful that the oversight model will lead to achievement of key performance indicators and that access to quality water will be achieved.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.