Revitalisation of uMkhomazi multi-billion rand water project underway

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has announced that the R23 billion uMkhomazi Water Project has been resuscitated, after being delayed for several years.

Mchunu made the announcement during a media briefing held in Durban to give an update on water security in eThekwini and other districts, particularly Phase I of the uMkhomazi Water Project.

Mchunu said the uMkhomazi Water Project will increase water security in the uMngeni Water Supply System which supplies eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, iLembe, Ugu, Harry Gwala District Municipalities and Msunduzi Local Municipality, and ensure water security in 2030.

He said, this represents progress after a number of meetings with the Ministers of Finance, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), and eThekwini Mayor.

Mchunu explained that the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), a state-owned entity charged with financing and implementing bulk raw water infrastructure projects, will implement the raw water component of the project, while the potable water component will be implemented by uMngeni-uThukela Water.

“This means that, the ball is now in eThekwini’s court to start consultations and complete them as soon as possible so that the project can really start without any further delays. These consultations will also enable TCTA to start raising 50% of the finance required for the project on the market.

“The remaining 50% will be funded by National Treasury, through a 25% loan to the TCTA and a 25% grant. The contribution to the project from the fiscus enables the water that will be provided to be affordable to the municipalities. We now want TCTA to proceed with planning and design work right away so that construction can start as soon as possible in 2024 / 2025,” Mchunu said.

Mchunu also reported that the department has completed the raising of the Hazelmere Dam wall by 7.02 metres, which will put additional water to eThekwini, following the floods which left Aqueducts 1 and 2 damaged.

The Minister said the repairs to Aqueduct 1 and 2 have been completed and they are back online, and will be commissioned soon.

“The shortages of water in the South and other areas require a number of accelerated activities, including the completion of repairs to eThekwini’s own south-bound Aqueduct. We are aware of several infrastructure projects by eThekwini, and these represent a positive development,” Mchunu said.

The Minister said the next priority activities would be to deal with non-revenue water and physical losses, including operations and maintenance, billing, and revenue collection.

He said the department is working in partnership with National Treasury and CoGTA to support eThekwini to improve its water and sanitation services.

In this regard, he said the city has put in place a Water and Sanitation Turnaround Strategy and the private sector as an additional component in the accelerated efforts, will play a role.

On wastewater infrastructure in the city, Mchunu announced that eThekwini and Umngeni-Uthukela Water have agreed on an immediate target of 10 wastewater plants for refurbishment, operation and maintenance, representing 90% of the effluent that the city treats.

He emphasised that eThekwini needs to sign the Service-Level Agreement soon.

Appointment of uMngeni-uThukela Water Board

The Minister also used an opportunity to introduce the newly appointed 12-member board for uMngeni-uThukela Water, which includes Advocate Vusi Khuzwayo as the Chairperson and Nothando Mkhize as the Deputy Chairperson.

Other board members are Senamile Masango; Khanyisani Shandu; Sylvia Mhlongo; Lavandran Gopaul; Hlengiwe Mvubu; Timothy Cornish; Diana Hoorzuk; Sipho Mtolo; and Sibusiso Mkhize.

“The newly appointed 12-member Board comprises of individuals who collectively possess Science, Engineering, Law, Accounting and Finance competencies,” Mchunu noted.

Source: South African Government News Agency