Makana needs R395m to fix its sewerage network

Gerard Goliath, left, Makana mayor Mzukisi Mmpahlwa and Riana Meiring at a media conference Image: ADRIENNE CARLISLE
Makana municipality needs to source about R395m to fix its decrepit sewerage network and sewage treatment plants and another R250m to repair its hopelessly potholed roads.

It also needs to find a way to address its 10,000-unit housing backlog.

These costs are just the tip of a huge infrastructure backlog that Makana faces, according to mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa.

He said in a written update to Makana residents that businesses, residents and government departments collectively owed the municipality about R545m.

“Without the contribution of these role players in revenue generation, it will be very difficult for this municipality to deal decisively with the infrastructure backlog.”

Residents were by far the worst defaulters, owing the municipality about R472m.

Residents were by far the worst defaulters, owing the municipality about R472m.

While there was still this great outstanding historical debt, he said annual revenue collection had improved.

Out of an annual revenue billing of R105m, about R94m or 90% was now collected.

He attributed the R11m collection shortfall to “network electrical losses, indigent basic allocation provisioning, street lights, and non-payment”.

The mayor painted a scary picture of what had been done versus what needed to be done in terms of water, wastewater and other infrastructure.

R10m had been allocated by the provincial government to fix some potholes but this would barely provide a band aid in light of the R250m required to do a proper overhaul of its collapsed road network.

Much had been done to improve the municipal capacity to purify water at its water treatment plants and pump stations but much more needed to be done.

Projects worth about R53m were under way on the various water treatment plants.

About R21m had also been spent to improve the two sewage treatment plants.

But, like with roads, this represents a tiny drop in a large and increasingly smelly ocean compared to the R395m required.

DA welcomes judgment to dissolve Makana Council

The sewage spills are now so dire in Makhanda that 10 citizens have launched a huge public interest high court application in a bid to force the municipality — along with the provincial and national governments — to fix its network and treatment plants.

It says the terrible spills which leak into schools, homes and the once pristine river networks in and around the city are robbing residents of their constitutional rights to dignity and a safe and healthy environment.

The lack of capacity to treat the city’s sewage has also led to a moratorium on housing developments, meaning that not a single RDP house has been built for several years.

The sewage spills are now so dire in Makhanda that 10 citizens have launched a huge public interest high court application in a bid to force the municipality — along with the provincial and national governments — to fix its network and treatment plants.

Mpahlwa said he had not yet been briefed about the Grahamstown high court application on the sewage issue, so could not immediately comment on it.

But he acknowledged in his briefing document to the residents that the municipality was in dire need of further funding for infrastructure projects which would alleviate service delivery challenges.

Mpahlwa has faced several high court applications in recent months.

The high court earlier in January found the municipality to be in breach of its obligations to provide basic services to its citizens, and ordered the provincial government to dissolve the Makana municipal council and appoint an interim administrator pending fresh elections.

To add to Mpahlwa’s woes, he and municipal manager Moppo Mene may face jail time if they are found in contempt of court for failing to implement a 2015 court order in terms of which they were to bring the poorly managed landfill site up to scratch.

That judgment is expected to be handed down some time in the next month

BY ADRIENNE CARLISLE

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