'People will revolt' - David Mabuza pledges R1.1bn for sewage crisis

12 September 2019 - 16:10 By ZINGISA MVUMVU
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The Vaal Dam. File photo.
The Vaal Dam. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy

Deputy President David Mabuza has cautioned that if government does not move with speed to arrest the Sedibeng regional sewer scheme disaster, people in the south of Gauteng will revolt.

Mabuza visited two wastewater treatment plants in south Gauteng, one in Sebokeng and another nearby, both of which are in a state of dysfunction - with sewage spilling into the streets and back to residents' homes.

To end this calamity, Mabuza promised that the government would pump in a further R1.1bn to get the plant to function at full capacity and without problems. The issues have been attributed to plundering of hundreds of millions of public funds initially allocated for the project.

Furthermore, the pollution from the treatment plant has contaminated the Vaal River and Vaal Dam, putting the lives of 15-million people, to whom this water is supplied, at great risk.

Worse still, the members of the SANDF who were deployed to salvage the situation - and who live in tents within the treatment plants' yards - have to endure a permanent stink worse than that of a pit latrine and are at risk of catching airborne diseases, they told Mabuza on Thursday.

The soldiers said there was little they could do because sewage was heading back to people's houses owing to a lack of adequate sewage pumps.

The soldiers told Mabuza that they were concerned that the government had dumped them in an environment that was not ideal for humans, especially when they had to eat within the premises.

Mabuza - talking to members of the mayoral committee and deputy minister of human settlements, water and sanitation David Mahlobo after concluding his site visits - said that if government did not pull up its socks and address the sewage troubles of south Gauteng, people would be left with no choice but to confront government.

"This is bad because, as you have heard from the soldiers, some of the sewage pumps are dysfunctional and as a result this waste is heading back to people's houses," said Mabuza who visited the area as the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee on service delivery.

Mabuza said R1.1bn was now needed to address the sewage scheme problems once and for all and promised that government would release the funds.

"Roughly when they were explaining to me, they are looking at more or less R1.1bn to improve the treatment plant," said Mabuza.

"The spillage is not yet dealt with, it is still spilling into the Vaal and we need to move a bit faster and I am not happy with our pace and the complaint from all involved is that we do not have money.

"But these are the issues I am going to have to sit and resolve with fellow members of the inter-ministerial task team," added Mabuza.

"The capacity that this treatment plant is currently handling is very low and it can handle more, we need to fix a lot of things before it is 100 percent functional." 

Mabuza promised residents that he will return to the Vaal in the next two weeks to "walk the streets" with them and see for himself the sewage running through the streets.

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