R911 million for Vaal River sewage clean-up


That the deployment last year of SA Army sappers followed by a public sector water supply and purification entity to bring the embattled Vaal River back from its seriously polluted state didn’t work is evidenced by an allocation of R911 million for the remainder of the current financial year by the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

Former defence and military veterans minister Lindiwe Sisulu is tasked with overseeing water and sanitation as well as human settlements in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet. There was probably some sense of pride when people from her old portfolio – the SA Army Engineer Formation – was selected by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to right the wrongs caused by years of pollution from municipal sewage works adjacent to one of the major inland waterways in South Africa. The Sappers did what they could and were withdrawn to be replaced by a team from ERWAT (East Rand Water Supply Company).

The east Gauteng company’s tenure is also apparently at an end with government’s news agency SAnews reporting R911 million has been committed for the rest of the 2020/21 financial year “to assist in solving longstanding sewer pollution of the Vaal River”.

Sisulu’s department has finalised the scope of work needed at the Vaal and will advertise 26 separate work packages in the “coming weeks for competent contractors to be part of solving the protracted sewer challenge”.

“This means appointed contractors will be on the ground during the festive season. Provided there are no community protests leading to work stoppages, more frequent in recent times, the department plans to launch module 6 in Sebokeng Water Care Works before the end of current financial year,” the DWS said.

The department added is taking all necessary precautions to ensure it complies with the provisions of Section 217 of the Constitution, as far as procurement is concerned.

“The process of advertising for competent contractors is in its final stages and adverts will be in the Government Gazette soon. Start and completion dates of the project will be communicated to all stakeholders once contractorsare appointed,” SAnews said.