MPs have called for water infrastructure to be declared a national key point‚ following this week’s disruption to water supplies in Johannesburg.
National key points are strategic sites that are provided with additional security.
A fire at Rand Water’s Eikenhof pump station on Monday night left large parts of Johannesburg without water‚ forcing Johannesburg Water to provide water to residents via tankers until supplies were restored. Rand Water is one of the country’s biggest water utilities‚ and supplies water to Gauteng.
MPs from Parliament’s portfolio committee on water and sanitation said on Wednesday water infrastructure was frequently vandalised and needed greater protection.
“Rand Water is not an isolated event. We have an experience in Madibeng‚ where municipal officials assisted by unscrupulous business persons tampered with the infrastructure by pumping unsavoury material into a clean water pipe‚ clearing the way for a water tanker (owned by the business people)‚” said the committee’s chairperson Lulu Johnson.
“It is a serious crisis that is confronting the whole country‚” he said.
Water and Sanitation minister Gugile Nkwinti told MPs he had raised the issue of declaring water infrastructure national key points with President Cyril Ramaphosa. “There is a positive response‚” he said.
Nkwinti said he planned to raise the issue of vandalism with unions‚ as it had become commonplace for striking workers to damage water infrastructure. “Their engagement is critical given the extent of the damage being done‚” he said.