Mchunu commits to resolve eThekwini water supply challenges

Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu, has undertaken to resolve the water supply challenges in the City of eThekwini by 15 February 2024. Mchunu made the commitment during a meeting held with the residents of Verulam, Tongaat and Phoenix on Sunday, following a number of protests by the communities over constant water supply challenges. Mchunu, accompanied by uMngeni-uThukela Water Board Chairperson, Advocate Vusi Khuzwayo, and eThekwini Speaker, Thabani Nyawose, met with stakeholders, including Verulam Water Crisis Committee representatives, where the residents urged the department to intervene and resolve the constant water supply challenges. The residents also urged the eThekwini Municipality to implement a proper billing system, and urgently address water leak repairs. Addressing residents, Mchunu emphasised that water is a basic human need and a Constitutional right. 'Some institutions, including schools and hospitals like Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital, have been without water. This is an occurrence that should not be allowed, and one that should be addressed with great urgency,' Mchunu said. Mchunu also condemned the incident happened at a recent community protest, where some residents sustained injuries and some got arrested. 'eThekwini is a Water Services Authority and is responsible to ensure that water reaches citizens. We apologise for the occurrences, and as the national Department of Water and Sanitation, we cannot absolve ourselves, as doing so would be a dereliction of duty. Instead, we are engaging and working together with officials from the city,' Mchunu said. The Minister highlighted uMkhomazi Water Project as one of the projects that will see an increase in water supply and ensure water security in the Umngeni Water Supply System. The system supplies eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, iLembe, Ugu, Harry Gwala District Municipalities and Msunduzi Local Municipality. The Minister said overtime, raw water in Umngeni and other sources has reduced and measures need to be implemented to co unter this. 'We have been in intense discussions with eThekwini and as of 31 January this year, a resolution was passed by the Council, which will enable the uMkhomazi Dam Project to proceed, thereby guaranteeing water supply and sustainable raw water supply,' the Minister said. He said he will be meeting with the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) and uMngeni-uThukela Water on 8 February 2024 to discuss a way forward on the project. 'The Head of Water in the city, Mr Msweli and uMngeni-uThukela Water Acting Chief Operating Officer will be on the ground, hard at work. Our Director-General, Dr Sean Phillips, will convene meetings every two weeks to monitor progress and I am inviting the Verulam Water Crisis Committee to form part of these meetings. 'The given date for all these challenges to be resolved is the 15th of February. No efforts will be spared in resolving these water supply challenges. Work will be carried out - day and night if we must - in order to meet this deadline and provide people with water,' Mchunu said. He assured residents that the department will come back after 15 February 2024 to account for the undertaking made. Source: South African Government News Agency