The water and sanitation department is working hard to recover more than R10 billion owed by municipalities.
Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said at a media briefing in Pretoria an outstanding debt of R10.7 billion was still to be paid to the department by municipalities.
She said to date billions had not been recovered by the department and it remained in the hands of municipalities.
According to Mokonyane money that is being owned by municipalities was causing the department not to be able to supply the country with water.
“The issue of water wastage in the country has been a problematic issue with some communities experiencing water shedding due to various reasons like municipalities owing the department and water boards,” she said.
Mokonyane said there would be devastating effects should municipalities not pay up.
“What will happen if this issue is not resolved in ensuring that citizens get accessible clean water?” she asked.
Mokonyane said, although there have been efforts to engage municipalities on how they would pay back the department, none have been successful.
“Over the last two weeks we have been engaging with the affected municipalities to seek payment and finalise payment agreements on the old debt as well as the payment of the current accounts but many have not paid,” she said.
“To date, a total of R213 million has been paid by municipalities to water boards and R55,5 million to the water trading entity of the department of water and sanitation,” she said.
Mokonyane could not say when burst pipes and water leakages would be fixed.
According to the minister, from March to September 2017, the money owed to the department had increased by R739 million.
The department, however, promised to engage the ministries of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, national treasury and organised local government in recovering the money.
“The actions taken are necessary especially for the future sustainability of bulk water supply, especially in the currently strained fiscal environment within the state,” the department said.
Media liaison and content development officer Sputnik Ratau said the war on leaks would see the end to that problem.
He said the programme took in young people and trained them to become plumbers, water agents and artisans to repair the leaks.
“The number of young people trained is supposed to be 15 000 but in the first year we took in just around 3 000,” he said.
“With the second intake, we are aiming for around 7 000 young people and we are looking at another input being close to another 5 000, Ratau said.
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