Songeni villagers Daphney Lubisi and Prudence Molemo tell Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza and Bushbuckridge executive mayor Renius Khumalo that they share water with cattle in a nearby rivulet. Mabuza, who visited different water plants including Shatale water purification works this week, wants the sand River water purification plant and others upgraded as a matter of urgency PICTURES: Riot Hlatshwayo
It will cost about R500m to provide water to residents of the sprawling Bushbuckridge area and its surrounds.
Premier David Mabuza is expected to meet stakeholders, including the department of water affairs, the Bushbuckridge Water Board and the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency, soon to discuss a way forward, said his spokesperson, Zibonelo Mcwango, on Tuesday.
"The meeting concerning the issues has not yet taken place, but I believe that it will be held soon."
Mcwango was unable to say whether the government had budgeted for the R500m needed for the water project. He said the premier had just given an estimated figure. "Many things will be known after the stakeholder meeting," he said.
When the premier visited water treatments plants in the Bushbuckridge area last Thursday, he asked residents to be patient. "We are aware of your problems, so we are working hard to bring you clean water," Mabuza said.
"Just give us time, we don't have to end up fighting."
He promised to renovate dilapidated plants and said the pumping capacity at Inyaka Dam was being increased. "We are going to rebuild all the plants and fix those that need to be fixed to make sure that you get clean water."
Mabuza said it would cost R20m to upgrade the Sabie River water treatment plant.
But did not give a time frame for the upgrade. A resident of Marite, Gabisile Ndlovu, complained that even though water treatment plants were situated in the area, the water was directed to communities further away, instead of to local ones.
"It is not easy for us to stand aside and look while the resources based at our village are being used to cater for other people," Ndlovu said.
"The government has to assist us first before they take the water to other areas." A few weeks ago Mabuza threatened to fire mayors, councillors and municipal officials if they failed to deliver water to the people. – AENS