Councils drowning in water debt

2011-04-14 17:27

Cape Town - Municipalities owe South Africa's water boards, which supply them with bulk water, more than R1.7bn and the debt is growing monthly, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa confirmed on Thursday.

"(This) municipal debt is in fact growing," she told a media briefing at Parliament, ahead of debate on her department's Budget vote.

It was happening in areas where there were many indigent people.

The department was working with the country's 13 water boards to "determine mechanisms" to collect the money.

Molewa confirmed the total debt at the beginning of the year was R1.7bn an amount almost equal to 20% of her department's current (2011/12) national budget.

She told journalists the long-term solution to the problem was job creation in areas where people could currently not afford to pay for water.

"There has been an increase (in the debt over the past two years), but this is obviously linked to the financial crisis that we saw last year, and it's understandable that as a country we're going through such a problem.

"We are doing all in our power to improve on this (debt) collection."

Molewa said while the total debt was growing, two of the boards, Umgeni Water and Bloem Water, had managed great improvements in their situation.

  • DerpyHooves - 2011-04-14 17:53

    Determine mechanisms to collect money? Probably goes something like this... "Did or are you going to vote for the ANC?" "Yes, you say? I that case you're exempted"

  • Chris - 2011-04-14 18:25

    Sorry - they buy the water at one price sell it at a higher price How can this happen. Oh Sorry I forgot to buy votes I supply water free to the people! UNSUSTAINABLE PEOPLE!!

  • Gandalf - 2011-04-14 18:35

    Well, I'm willing to bet that a large quantity of the water they have pay for ended up in the sewers because the incompetent idiots haven't maintained the water system, and most likely haven't touched it since 1994. Drive anywhere around JHB, for example, and you can barely drive more than to blocks without seeing a water leak becaise of a burst pipe. Incompetent fools.

  • Madelane - 2011-04-14 19:33

    Sushi parties and tinted window luxury cars do not come cheap quite aside from the water that merely runs off into the Atlantic from lack of any semblance of maintainance

  • Sentor - 2011-04-15 06:39

    The chairperson of a local ratepayers association took a reporter into an informal settlement (under police guard) last week. The reason was to show the reporter the sewerage overflows into the river but while they were there she saw water flowing out from a communal tap. The tap had been removed and the water was gushing out. The residents told her that it had been "broken" for months. Had anyone reported it? No one cared no one pays anyway. I calculated that if the water had been running like that from a tap on my property it would have cost me around R48 000 a month. The SAP sector manager reported the matter to Johannesburg water and arranged for a police escort into the area.

  • Sisie - 2011-04-15 09:14

    There was an article the other day on the real cost of water in SA. How can this happen, oh yes that's right when they came int power in 1994, they promised FREE electricity/FREE water/FREE housing/FREE hospitals/FREE education. I think they have taken this FREE too much to heart. The public must pay, but the money will go into our pockets - it's pocket money what's wrong with you.

  • JudithNkwe - 2011-05-24 21:42

    When 30 to 40% of the water is lost due to leaks, broke pipes and taps left running - how much is actually recoverable? The water infrastructure is a mess and needs attending to urgently

  • tomas.wolf.376 - 2012-07-11 11:00

    Well Considering that I have been living in my house for a year now, and have not been successfully able to get/apply for a water & rates and taxes account yet. I am not surprised. Total disaster at the council. But we shall keep on trying.

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