Water is life, not a political bargaining chip

27 Oct 2021 in Press Statements

Nelson Mandela Bay is fast running out of water. Our dams are running dry and we are in crisis. We do have a critical lifeline, however- the Nooitgedacht Low-Level Water Scheme. Unfortunately, due to an administrative blunder, or gross negligence, by national government, the construction of the third phase of this project has come to a grinding halt.

Today I want to announce that I have taken the first step towards positioning the municipality to take control of this project.

The third phase of the Nooitgedacht Low-Level Scheme is a National Department of Water Affairs (DWA) project, which should have been finalised by September 2021.

DWA appointed the Amatola Water Board as the implementing agent of this project, which, upon finalisation, would ensure that the Metro receives an additional 40ML of water a day.

Unfortunately, because the Amatola Water Board has failed to pay the contractor for civil works completed, the contractor has cancelled the contract.

The contractor has since been paid, but the project has been delayed indefinitely, because there is now no one to complete it.

This administrative bungle has exposed Nelson Mandela Bay to adverse risk. With dam levels at a critically low 12,21% of total capacity, we desperately need this project to be finalised.

I want to make it very clear – Nelson Mandela Bay will run out of water if we can’t get this project back on track.

Phase three of the project will increase the amount of water available to our Metro from 170 Ml/day to 210 Ml/day.

The additional 40 Ml/day will ensure that our economy and residents are not brought to their knees by dry taps. Nothing can be more pressing than the need to resolve this impasse, and we cannot stand back and allow the incompetent ANC national government to fail our people in their time of need.

Earlier this month, I wrote to the Department of Water Affairs to request that they resolve the payment and contractual dispute between the Amatola Water Board and the contractor.

In fact, the extent of the crisis facing us is of such a nature that I have also subsequently written to President Ramaphosa for his urgent, personal intervention in this regard.

Today, I want to announce that I have written to the Minister of Water and Sanitation and declared a dispute in terms of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act 13 of 2005. We need to resolve this impasse immediately, and the dispute will provide us with a platform to address this matter.

One of my proposals will be to request that Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality take direct control of this project, whilst the DWA still oversees the project. The Amatola Water Board has proven incapable of managing what is arguably the most important emergency bulk water project in South Africa.

I also want to put on record that, as Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay and leader of the Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape, neither the municipality nor the DA will hesitate to seek emergency appropriate legal relief if our formal Intergovernmental Relations Framework dispute does not resolve the impasse.

I will do everything in my ability to fight tooth and nail to keep water in our taps.

When the DA-led coalition regained control of  Nelson Mandela Bay in December 2020, we immediately implemented a drought mitigation plan. Earlier this week, we launched the first of these projects – the 5.5km Bloemendal Pipeline that will ensure that KwaNobuhle does not run dry when the Kouga Dam is depleted.

The DA has proven that when we are in government, we get things done. Only the DA is strong enough to fight to keep your taps running, but we need your help.

On Monday, 1 November 2021, residents have one last chance to vote for a DA majority government and put our Metro back onto the path of success.

Give the DA a 50% plus one majority, and together we can get things done and take NMB forward again!