Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu, has consulted the Water Service Authorities (WSA) in KwaZulu-Natal on the reconfiguration of two water boards, Umgeni and Mhlathuze Water, with the aim of establishing a single water board.
Various mayors of KwaZulu-Natal, who echoed each other’s sentiments in support of the proposal, attended the consultation, held at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban on Monday.
The mayors added that the move would transform the water sector and ensure effective water services delivery.
Outlining the move towards the reconfiguration of the two water boards, Mchunu said the main drive is to ensure adequate capacity in the water sector, with quality and skilled engineers.
Mchunu emphasised that a single water entity would be able to support the under-capacitated Water Services Authorities to meet increasing water demands in the province.
“The single water board that we envisage needs to have the capacity to sustain itself with financial muscle, where it can raise money to render services on its own.
“The reality is that the expenditure to implement projects is too high, [and] the demand of services is also too high, however, the delivery by government institutions is too low, and we need to fix this as a matter of urgency,” Mchunu said.
He added that the reconfiguration of water boards is a result of the National Water and Sanitation Summit, held earlier this year, and “this is part of the resolutions and we are implementing.”
The Minister also highlighted that the review of the two water boards is set to address financial sustainability, including servicing areas that are not currently serviced and institutional confusion caused by having multiple water boards serving the same province.
“A single water board in KwaZulu-Natal is expected to address transformation challenges in the province, increase water access to un-serviced rural areas, enhance market capitalisation for infrastructure projects and reduce skewed supply of water amongst others,” Mchunu said.
The purpose of the reconfiguration of Umgeni and Umhlathuze Water Boards is to:
• Strengthen the capacity and capability of the entity in Province (leveraging on existing technical skills);
• Improve and enhance institutional efficiencies and rationalise the number of institutions in the water sector to ensure economies of scale;
• Maintain financial viability and enhance the ability to raise capital from the market for infrastructure projects;
• Enable water boards to better support Water Services Authorities;
• Ensure transformation and improved governance; and
• Reconfiguration must not result in job losses.
Mchunu said the consultation with WSA is the first step towards establishing a single water entity in the province and it will be followed by the appointment of an independent Transactional Advisor to project manage the reconfiguration, amongst other processes to be followed.
Upon taking over the portfolio of water and sanitation a year ago, Mchunu has been seized with his intent to transform the water and sanitation sector and to unlock all the challenges that hinder the provision of services to the people.
To this end, the Minister has criss-crossed the country mobilising water and sanitation stakeholders to work together with all hands-on deck to ensure efficiency that will result on communities having access to basic services.
Source: South African Government News Agency