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Financial|Infrastructure|PROJECT|Project Management|Projects|Resources|Sanitation|SECURITY|Service|Services|Water|Maintenance|Infrastructure
Financial|Infrastructure|PROJECT|Project Management|Projects|Resources|Sanitation|SECURITY|Service|Services|Water|Maintenance|Infrastructure
financial|infrastructure|project|project-management|projects|resources|sanitation|security|service|services|water|maintenance|infrastructure

Delays in finalising water, sanitation projects concern Portfolio Committee

11th October 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation has raised concerns over weaknesses in finalising bulk infrastructure projects within the water and sanitation portfolio.

Following the receipt of progress reports on the implementation of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and its entities’ annual performance targets, the committee said that the delays required urgent action, including strengthening project management and monitoring.

“The committee considers it unacceptable that 71% of total projects funded through the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant programme have been delayed. The direct impact of the delays is the non-delivery of quality water to the people, as well as undermining the economic potential that could be unlocked by provision of water,” said Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation chairperson Robert Mashego.

Concern was further raised over the impact on the projected budgets of these delayed projects, which continue to increase, placing further stress on the already constrained fiscus, with the committee highlighting the Office of the Auditor-General’s projections that the increase in revised budgets owing to delayed projects amounts to R9.4-billion.

“To remedy this weakness, the committee has called for improved project management, monitoring and procurement processes. Further, the committee called on the department to capacitate its project management unit to enhance oversight and monitoring,” he said.

Additionally, Mashego pointed to the Water Trading Entity’s (WTE’s) maintenance of water infrastructure as an area of concern for the committee.

“The committee is concerned that 42% of the WTE bulk infrastructure assets are reported to be in poor condition, which leads to high water losses, loss of revenue and the inability to deliver water to clients.”

The committee has urged stakeholders to increase investment in maintenance from the current 2.1% to 8%, as prescribed by the National Treasury.

However, despite these concerns, the committee highlighted commendable progress in reducing irregular expenditure within the portfolio from the reported R979-million in the 2019/20 financial year to R31-million in the 2022/23 financial year, as well as the improvement in the quality of the DWS’s financial statements.

“The proper management of resources is a critical pillar in ensuring quality services to the people. The committee has urged the department to continue its upward trajectory in the management of finances,” Mashego said.

The committee further welcomed the progress in developing a water services improvement plan to assist with improving service delivery in municipalities.

The plan includes important initiatives for the sector, including coordination with National Treasury, the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent and the South African Local Government Association to develop appropriate action plans to address the causes of water infrastructure and quality challenges and water losses.

Also noted in the statement is the improvement in the turnaround time for the adjudication of water use licence applications.

“While the target of 90 days, as announced by the President in the 2020 and 2021 State of the Nation Addresses, has not been achieved, the committee welcomes the improvement from 300 days to the current 110 days to conclude the process,” Mashego noted.

“The committee remains of the view that the improvement in turnaround times for approving water-use licences has economic consequences for applicants and can affect the food security in the country.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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