Water availability charge debate
At the MS Teams virtual open council meeting last Wednesday (August 18), the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition at the council, issued a notice to the meeting that the water availability charge levied for the provision of water to the area be scrapped owing to there being little or no water being provided during this time.
The item in the agenda shows that the municipality has an obligation to provide water to its constituents yet, at this time, very few are receiving water.
In the addendum to the meeting the Democratic Alliance put forward a motion – already submitted in May – that the water availability charge be scrapped until water availability was consistent and at the quality required.
In a response in the agenda, the municipality pointed out that this loss in revenue from water availability will require funds to be raised from other budgets should the recommended proposal is passed. They estimated a budget deficit of R12 million would be lost, possibly compromising the maintenance and operation of the new Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) plant and the Waste Water Reverse Osmosis (WWRO) plant.
At the meeting, several ANC councillors argued that the water availability was intended for maintenance and provision of the infrastructure. Mayor Khululwa Ncamiso said that the budget was already set and any scrapping would seriously affect the budget.
EFF councillor Xolisa Runeli said “apartheid infrastructure” was the problem and that the “white people” in the lower areas still received water and could afford to pay. He also abstained from the vote claiming he would not take part in an illegal motion, but did not explain the illegality. The vote was taken with six DA councillors supporting the motion, 10 ANC councillors against it and one abstention.
One of the items discussed at the meeting was the writing-off of stock.
This included adjusting certain perishables as well as stock that had become unusable due to rust and so forth. After a stocktake just over R370 of office material were to be written-off. Also, other consumables such as diesel and petrol amounted to writing-off just over R75,000.
Among the items to be scrapped due to rust or obsolesce, including trucks, LDVs, trucks, tractors and a boat, amounting to just under R67,500.
Ndlambe water quality
Water quality statistics were provided in the agenda that indicate 100% compliance with E.coli count in the potable water for all areas in May and July but in June, Port Alfred was only at 75% compliant. While Kleinemonde was only tested once per period, all others were tested twice except for Bathurst and Bushman’s River that were tested three times (Bathurst was only tested once on July).
While intermittent testing is according to general water quality requirements, through necessity testing must be dramatically increased and further analysis carried out when the waste water is blended with the water from the SWRO comes on-line.
As far as water is concerned the municipality is requesting a total of R348 million in order to implement the following;
Bathurst bulk reticulation, Port Alfred replacement of asbestos pipe, Port Alfred secondary line from Horseshoe Pass, augmenting of raw water supply from Bathurst water treatment works (WTW) from Lushington River, Port Alfred Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant, upgrading Bathurst WTW, Thornhill water supply link services, upgrading of internal bulk water reticulation at both Station Hill and Alexandria, Alexandria bulk water supply water reticulation and reclamation and Ndlambe water conservation and demand management. .
As for sanitation, a total of R232, 417, 356.75 is requested from DBSA for the following projects;
Marselle bulk sewage network, Bathurst bulk sewer reticulation, upgrading of the internal bulk sewage reticulation in Alexandria and upgrading of the pump station, upgrading the Kenton-on-Sea waste water treatment works, upgrading of the Port Alfred waste water treatment works, installation of sewer network in the Port Alfred CBD, upgrading of Port Alfred sewer pump stations, Thornhill sewer link services, refurbishment of Bushmans waste water treatment works and upgrading of internal bulk sewer reticulation in Station Hill.
Further funding was also requested from the DBSA with projects that have already received some contributions from other sources. These include;
The augmentation of raw water supply for the Bathurst WTW from Lushington River, Port Alfred RO project and Thornhill water supply link services amounting to a total request for a further R172, 032,000.
Closure of landfill and transfer sites
The landfill sites around Ndlambe are to be closed. A contract was awarded to a contractor to manage the landfill sites at Alexandria, Bathurst and Port Alfred as well as the transfer site at Boknes. In order to close the sites it is necessary to apply of closure. This has already been granted for the Bushmans/Marselle landfill site by the Department of Economic Development, environmental Affairs and Tourism and the initial cost of the license was R35 million but was negotiated R16 million to simply cap the site.
The estimated cost of closure licenses for the other sites and their rehabilitation are as follows;
Port Alfred – R120 million, Bathurst – R20 million, Marselle/Bushmans (rehabilitation only) – R16 million, Boknes – R35 million and Alexandria – 80 million.
Ndlambe will apply for funding these projects as required and the actual values of closure and rehabilitation will be published after the Environmental Impact Assessments EIA’s) have been carried out.
Talk of the Town is awaiting answers from the municipality for clarity as to what is to take the place of these landfill and transfer sites after they are closed.
Sports management in Ndlambe
A new sports management committee was announced at the meeting. This consists of a management team that includes Mzwanele Wopa as president, Neil Wentzel as first VP, Unathi Balura second VP, Divan Cannon as third VP and Thembisile Bili as treasurer. The members representing the various sporting codes include Themba Rala of the Bathurst Sports Forum, Gladman Johannes from the Bathurst Sports Forum, Khayalethu Ngangqu from the Kenton Sports Forum, Mzwandile Mgweba of the Port Alfred Sports Forum, Nomawethu Ngangqo of the Ndlambe Netball Association and David Mabona of the Ndlambe Rugby Union.
Councillors not declaring family interests
Before moving to the green section (for councillors and administration only) another motion was raised by councillor Raymond Schenk regarding the Auditor General’s report in the annual audit that some family members of councillors had been awarded contracts but the councillors had not declared the connection.
They asked that the names of the individuals be revealed in order for action to be taken against them.
A discussion followed as to whether this was a fair thing to do. The municipal manager, Rolly Dumezweni explained that the work had been done but, because of the new Protection of Private Information (POPI) act that publishing the names could not be revealed to the public but that all necessary action would be taken.