The Department of Water and Sanitation says the mismanagement of Municipal Infrastructure Grants in some municipalities across the country is a major concern.
This as some municipalities are failing to deal with sewer spillages due to poor maintenance of infrastructure and diversion of funds.
However, some municipalities in the North West are failing to address sewer spillages because they are allegedly dysfunctional.
The department says most of the municipalities in the country are incompetent and have no capacity to address sewer spillages.
Some of the local authorities in the North West grappling with sewer spillages include Mamusa, Lekwa Teemane, Tswaing and Ditsobotla as they lack technical and financial capacity.
However, the mismanagement of funds is allegedly the primary cause.
Spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation, Sputnik Ratau says, “When they receive funding for infrastructure management or even infrastructure development that budget sometimes gets re-routed to other uses and therefore, the Municipal Infrastructure Grant that is received from Cogta (Department of Cooperative Governance), Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant, and the Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Grant that are received from the departments sometimes are also not accounted for correctly and not used for purposes they are intended.”
Some municipalities struggling to address sewer spillages say technical positions are vacant, which further contributes to the problem.
Raw sewage openly runs in the township streets of these municipalities.
Residents are trapped in their yards because of sewer and this is what township residents have had to contend with.
They say no one really cares.
Sewer spillage has caused Bloemhof guesthouse owner, Jan Du Plessis (76) his business.
Customers have deserted his business, thanks to the sewer spillage.
“I had women here that stopped here last week. They wanted to bring their son here and she turned around and said to her husband, which dump you wanna put our son in? So, it was like ‘oh, ok, this is what people are saying’. So, they don’t wanna come to the gate and see what rooms look like and the place,” laments Du Plessis.
However, North West Human Settlement MEC, Lenah Miga blames sewer spillages on unplanned residential areas and poor infrastructure.
“Our townships have grown to the extent that now the pipelines are very small. That is why you have some burst pipes or the situations of sewer spillages. In many of our areas like in Mamusa, Lekwa Teemane, and in your Naledi, they are doing their best to also use the sewer jet to then address continuously the challenges that they have,” explains Miga.
North West Salga (South African Local Government Association) Chairperson, Khumalo Molefe says sewer spillages are caused by low-level expertise within local municipalities.
“The state of local municipalities that we have, they are unable to keep up, unable to perform even the lowest of technical practice in maintaining and managing reticulation. That is why half the time they will say the districts. That is the function of locals. They collect rates and tax for that particular responsibility,” adds Molefe.
The Water and Sanitation Department says it has partnered with the private sector to assist with expertise to curb the ongoing problems of sewer spillages, across local authorities.