Call for speedy resolution to end Makhanda water crisis

The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) has called for a speedy resolution to end the decade-long water crisis at Makhanda in the Eastern Cape.

The call follows reports of fresh protests by the Makhanda community against the Makana Local Municipality over unreliable water supply.

Committee chairperson, Fikile Xasa, said during its recent oversight visit to the municipality, the committee engaged the municipal leadership extensively on the water shortages, and a plan to alleviate water crisis was presented.

Xasa said the plan includes the upgrading of bulk water supply for James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works, and the municipality’s two raw water sources.

This was necessary because the other raw water source, the Waainek Water Treatment Works, has operational challenges.

“This project has been in progress since 2013. This means that Makhanda residents have been without reliable water supply for over a decade, considering the severe drought that also affected the area from 2011.

“This is an unreasonably long time for a project that was initially planned for completion within three years. The municipality attributed the delay to problems relating to the project’s implementing partners, namely Amatola Water and its sub-contractors, as well as the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS),” Xasa said.

Shortly after its oversight visit to the municipality, the committee engaged the project implementing partners, with DWS Deputy Minister, David Mahlobo, leading the delegation.

“Mitigating actions were presented, including sourcing of additional funding to address the project cost overruns, fast-tracking of supply chain management processes, and fast-tracking of work permits.

“It is now nearly six months since these mitigating actions were presented and the Makhanda water crisis remains unresolved. The committee calls on the project’s implementing agents to act with a sense of urgency and do their utmost to end the decade-long water crisis in the town,” Xasa said.

He said a follow-up on this matter will be included in the committee’s programme. –