Matjhabeng municipality in the Free State says it simply cannot afford to settle its more than R1 billion water bill with Sedibeng Water.
The municipality is at logger heads with the water entity and is disputing R600 million of the overall bill.
A high court order has forced Sedibeng Water to reverse a complete water cut.
Taps ran dry in Matjhabeng for 24 hours.
Households, schools, clinics, hospitals and businesses were affected.
Water was only restored after the municipality took legal action against Sedibeng Water.
However, Matjhabeng Mayor Nkosinjani Speelman is defiant.
“Sedibeng they can cut the water until forever but we won’t be able to pay that R1.4 billion because we are disputing the R600 million. I don’t want to complain and say this is inherited to me that is not the problem. What is key is how to solve the problem.”
Speelman says efforts to collect revenue from residents and businesses are yielding good results.
He insists that it’s all going towards servicing its water debt.
“We’ll try and pay them the monthly instalment of which as a municipality instalment. We paid them R55 million in December and R15 million in January. I’m unable to do service delivery any money that I get. I must make sure that I pay Sedibeng and Eskom of which it’s a very frustrating issue. You see now the potholes in the road are very bad after the rains.”
Road-users agree with Speelman.
“Service delivery here is very poor. The roads are poor. Water always everywhere on the roads,” says a road user.
Another road user says, “The potholes are everywhere.”
The municipality has approached the provincial government and the national department of water affairs for intervention.