SCOA Visits Rural Project

Yvonne Phosa
Chairperson of Standing Committee on Appropriations

Members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Appropriations (SCOA) visited the uMshwathi Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme on Thursday, 12th September 2017, to witness first-hand progress with the project. A tour of the various components of the scheme was preceded by a meeting in Pietermaritzburg where a presentation on the project was done by Umgeni Water and comments made by senior representatives of uMgungundlovu District Municipality (uMDM), one of the beneficiaries of the scheme

Cllr Thobekile Maphumulo
uMgungundlovu District Municipality Mayor

The Mayor of uMDM, Councillor Thobekile Maphumulo, said the uMshwathi Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme will ensure sustainability of water supply to various parts of uMgungundlovu and iLembe Districts. She described the partnership between uMDM and Umgeni Water as very strong which has enabled communities to benefit from this partnership. The project, she said, is value for money. Also present at the information provision session were a representative of National Treasury and a representative of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs KwaZulu-Natal.

Some of SCOA's main focuses are expenditure on infrastructure development, the impact of such expenditure and whether appropriate procedures had been followed in application of such expenditure, especially grant funding.

Msizi Cele
GM: Operations at Umgeni Water

uMshwathi Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme is a rural project that comprises six phases and it will serve communities in uMgungundlovu and iLembe. At this stage phases one and two have been completed apart from final commissioning and phase three is at an advanced stage of completion, all at an estimated cost of approximately R1 billion. An estimated 265 000 people will benefit from phases one, two and three. This number will increase significantly after phases four, five and six are completed. Phases four, five and six are expected to cost an additional R1 billion. The project is being funded by Umgeni Water and the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Members of SCOA visited various sites after the information provision session ended and were impressed with progress to date. For the purposes of clarity and additional information members of SCOA asked various questions which included:

  • How was the number of beneficiaries estimated? The response from Umgeni Water was that it is based on Census 2011 and projections at a moderate rate of growth to 2045.
  • When will the remaining Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) be provided by the Department of Water and Sanitation and will it be sufficient to complete the project? Response from the Department of Water and Sanitation was that assurance of payment from the Department of Water and Sanitation is sufficient for work to continue, and the Department has already provided such an assurance. In the meantime, Umgeni Water provides funding while it awaits Department grants. The National Treasury representative also confirmed availability of funds.
  • What does the supply chain process entail in awarding contracts and where are pipes sourced? Response from Umgeni Water was that procurement strategy for projects over the value of R500 000 involves open tender. In addition, there is a requirement of allocation of 35% of contract value to Contract Participation Goal partners as a means to promote and entrench Black enterprise development. Pipes are generally procured from one supplier, again through Umgeni Water’s supply chain process.
  • How was the land ownership issue – meaning acquisition of servitude – resolved? Response from Umgeni Water was that servitude is negotiated with land owners and, when the process has been completed, servitude is registered as an Umgeni Water asset with the Deeds Office. Payment delays occur when a land owner is not tax compliant or legal hurdles arise.
  • What is the source of water for the uMshwathi Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme? Response from Umgeni Water: Raw is obtained from Midmar Dam and subsequently treated.
  • The number of decent jobs created is commendable. It is important that jobs are also created for general workers. Response from Umgeni Water was that a job is categorised as decent when one person works for 100 days. Every effort is also made in projects to create work opportunities for the unskilled or semi-skilled.

Members of SCOA encouraged Umgeni Water to continue with its efforts at development of small, micro and medium enterprises.