Only two out of the 45 municipalities in the Eastern Cape have the necessary qualified personnel to ensure the effective management of water. The current water shortage in the Eastern Cape has been caused by inadequate planning.

In response to a parliamentary question posed by myself to the MEC for Local government regarding water planning in the province, it emerged that only two municipalities have qualified water engineers.

The current drought has affected agriculture, industry and caused job losses which could have been less severe if there was proper planning around the utilization of the water resources in the province.

Heads must roll in the department of Local Government.

The Amathole District Municipality has three Engineers one of which is on a five year contract with a year of service still required by the individual.

As regards the Nelson Mandel Metro, there are only two qualified Water Engineers.

The remaining few engineers in the province are either technologists or technicians doing such work.

Furthermore, only 16 municipalities (which are water service authorities) out of 45 municipalities have Water Service Development Plans as required by the Water Services Act 18 of 1997.

The remaining municipalities are using Water Service Development Plans for compliance purposes only and are not using the documents as proper planning tools.

As a province with water scarcity and a drought that has prevailed for more than two years, this water crisis is having catastrophic consequences.

This disgraceful state of affairs once again shows the lack of oversight by the MEC for Local Government, Sicelo Gqobana, and his department in ensuring that this province will have sufficient water reserves and contingency plans in the months and years ahead.

The lack of funding and the lack of action by portfolio councillors to monitor adequate water planning for the province is inexcusable.

The sudden interventions by the Nelson Mandela Metro to source more water is ”too little too late” and one hopes that the emergency funding request for R750-million for a desalination plant will be urgently and favourably considered by national government.

I will on behalf of the Democratic Alliance be engaging with the MEC and with the portfolio committee in the Legislature on this matter. There needs to be compliance to ensure adequate planning for water resources. What steps municipalities will be taking to recruit adequate personnel will also be pursued.

For further information, please contact Dacre Haddon, MPL on 079 694 3788

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