South African Army engineers have used up the R350 million allocated to repair and refurbish water infrastructure on the Vaal River with Deputy President David Mabuza assuring the Sappers “more money will be released” for the project.
The Deputy President last week visited the Sebokeng wastewater treatment plant, one of more than 40 Sappers from the SA Army Engineer Formation have been working on since the start of the year. Their deployment, another one under the Operation Prosper banner which sees the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) assisting other government departments and entities, was called for by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in October last year.
Mabuza was accompanied on the site visit by David Mahlobo, deputy minister of Human Settlements and Sanitation, according to the Department of Defence (DoD). The repair and refurbishment of water infrastructure on the Vaal River reached almost crisis proportions due to lack of maintenance by local authorities compounded by vandalism leaving pump stations broken and equipment stolen.
At the Sebokeng facility, one of those damaged, allowing raw sewage into the Vaal River, Mabuza thanked the Sappers for their work saying “there is progress”.
He added: “We are not there yet. The spillage has not yet been resolved and I think it’s about time we move fast,” with the rider that “some money will be released” to assist the Engineer Formation.
Last month the SA Army’s most senior soldier, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, said, in addition to Sebokeng, elements of the Engineer Formation were deployed and working in the Sharpeville, Meyerton and Vereeniging areas.
“They have – and are – upgrading 44 critical pump stations; refurbishing three treatment works and cleaning primary settling tanks (PSTs),” Yam said during a briefing in Thaba Tshwane.