Government to spend R600m to get water tanks to over 3,000 schools
The department of basic education will spend R600m to install water tanks at more than 3,000 schools across the country.
This was revealed by the department of water and sanitation during a media briefing at the Rand Water head office in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The installation of tanks and filling them up will be carried out by water and sanitation, said minister Lindiwe Sisulu - but education will foot the bill.
"The minister of basic education is trying to put together all the elements that will make it possible for us as government to allow children to go back to school," said Sisulu.
"We have been in communication and the responsibility to provide water and to some extent sanitation rests with us, as per our agreement with the minister of education. We are in a state of preparedness to assist the minister of basic education have the necessary water in all the schools.
"The money will come from basic education, the services come from us - but they will be paying for the water."
Sisulu said the department on its own had already installed water tanks for communities at some school schools because "they are safe areas".
Water and sanitation acting director-general (DG) Mbulelo Tshangana said the process to deliver the tanks was already under way.
Rand Water would act as the department's implementing agent and employ emergency procurement to seek suppliers.
"The DG of basic education has signed an implementation protocol with myself and the CEO of Rand Water. The department of education has put an amount of about R600m aside to make sure that all the 3,000-plus schools have water and sanitation. Rand Water will be our implementing agent," said Tshangana.
"They have appointed a chief procurement officer to do exactly that. They are also activated emergency procurement and have negotiated with all the suppliers in the country to make sure we achieve the target that the minister of basic education and our minister have contracted to achieve.
"It does not make sense to get the children back to school if there is no water. We cannot ask them to wash hands where there is no water, so we will be prioritising this."
Sisulu said the water tanks were a temporary measure rather than a sustainable solution. After the Covid-19 pandemic, she said the department would let the water tanks stay in place while trying to set up proper infrastructure to provide running water to communities who do not have.