‘We have experience in drought management’— Umgeni Water defends appointment

Umgeni Water has maintained that it has a wealth of expertise, experience and knowledge in drought management following talk online about its role in the water crisis in Cape Town.

Gabsie Mathenjwa, the chairperson of the board of Umgeni Water, said the entity – one of the country’s biggest water boards – received a directive from Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane requesting it to investigate possible interventions that would relieve the situation in Cape Town. 

“Umgeni Water acted in conformance of this directive and in line with its supply chain policy and legislative requirements pertaining to procurement. It must be noted that compliance to policies and legislation are extremely important and that there are no shortcuts in attaining this,” Mathenjwa said. 

She said the procurement process had been completed and Umgeni Water personnel were ready to begin preparatory work with staff from the department and the City of Cape Town on implementing the preferred solution – a desalination plant in the city.

“Implementation of this scheme is dependent on the City of Cape Town signing an off-take agreement coupled with identification of the appropriate site with adequate electricity supply and access to the reticulation network,” Mathenjwa said.

“It is undoubtedly appreciated that formalisation of involvement of all relevant parties is of paramount importance for various reasons, including adherence to legislation and compliance to good corporate governance and to also ensure that the product is purchased for reticulation,” she said.

Politicians, residents urged to work together

Mathenjwa assured existing customers of the KwaZulu-Natal water board that the proposed intervention in Cape Town wouldn’t affect them. 

“Umgeni Water has also managed effectively water resources and implemented numerous interventions to both mitigate and manage the effects of drought. Any suggestion to the contrary is devoid of fact,” she said. 

“Umgeni Water has a wealth of expertise, experience and knowledge in drought management and in also identifying, planning, designing, implementing and operating and managing appropriate infrastructure. As a caring organisation and significant player in the sector, it is willing to assist where required and when requested,” Mathenjwa said.

Meanwhile, Parliament has cautioned against “pointing fingers and turning the ongoing water crisis… into a political point-scoring match”.

The chairperson of the Select Committee on Social Services, Cathy Dlamini, called on politicians and residents of Cape Town to work together and change their water use habits.

“We continue to call for full cooperation between the national departments of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, and water and sanitation; the Western Cape department of local government, environmental affairs and development planning together with the City of Cape Town in finding solutions to this crisis,” said Dlamini. 

“The people of Cape Town must also chip in and assist by reducing consumption and adhering to restrictions,” she said.—News24

Jan Bornman
Jan Bornman
Reporter at New Frame. Interested in migration, refugees and asylum seekers' stories. MA in Migration & Displacement.
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