WaterCAN has called on water authorities to acknowledge and fulfil their obligations, emphasising the need for accountability and transparency.

By Staff Reporter

The Water Community Action Network (WaterCAN), an initiative led by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), has urged Gauteng water authorities to make their water infrastructure plans publicly available. The organisation has stressed the significance of these plans containing comprehensive information on expenditures and projected timelines.

The organisation stated that its demand is intended to provide clarity to the public regarding the infrastructure being built, its expected cost, delivery timeline, and funding sources.

“We would like to see this information for Johannesburg area water infrastructure from the City of Johannesburg and its entity Johannesburg Water, the bulk water provider Rand Water and the national Department of Water and Sanitation.

“The information available is patchy and does not provide a clear overall picture,” reads WaterCan’s statement.

WaterCAN sent a letter to Joburg Water and Rand Water on 9 October requesting meetings to gain clarity on the plans to address the water crisis.

On October 10th, the City of Joburg and Joburg Water held a media briefing to explain their infrastructure plans. However, WaterCAN, says it was not invited to this briefing, even though they believe that engagement should involve civil society and the affected people, not just the media.

During the briefing, Joburg Water presented a list of reservoirs that are scheduled to be completed by April 2024 to July 2025.

“However, we note that there are discrepancies between the projects listed in the Joburg Water presentation and the projects in the Joburg Water capital expenditure budget. We used the Joburg Water capital expenditure list from the City of Joburg’s draft 2023/24 budget, as the City has failed to publish the approved budget on its website as legally required and the National Treasury has published only some of the documents from the approved budget.”

WaterCAN states that the Joburg Water presentation projects have an estimated cost of R771,178 million over two years. However, the allocated budget for these projects is only R386 million. The revised expenses now include an extra R385.178 million, effectively increasing the project expenditure by double.

“How will this be funded? Will other projects be dropped to fund these? Is this even in the budget? If this is in the final approved budget, why has the City not made this available?

“In June, when the City’s final budget was tabled at the council for approval, the MMC’s budget speech included reference to a Water Resilience Action Plan but we have not found a copy.

“While it is encouraging that the City is attempting to address the infrastructure crisis, it is a concern that such significant capital projects appear to have been planned in such a last-minute rush that they are not even in the budget.”

WaterCAN has also called for Johannesburg and Rand Water to be held responsible for the ongoing problem of water shortages. In the past few weeks, residents in Johannesburg and Tshwane have been facing regular interruptions in their water supply due to extremely low levels in the reservoirs of both cities. Despite authorities claiming that reservoirs are gradually recovering, certain areas in Gauteng are still without water.

In an interview with  sabcnews.com WaterCAN Executive Manager Dr Ferrial Adam said: “Our water situation is dire and we’re at a point now where we all have to get together and pull our heads together and see how we’re going to figure this out. So, it has to be a combination of local government, provincial and national as well as the people who are being affected on the ground, ordinary citizens.”

“And what is happening right now, is decisions are being made without consultation across and leaving people out of the picture. We don’t know what is happening and that’s creating even more frustration amongst people who are experiencing no water.”

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