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Serious water problems in all Mafube towns - Time for Privatisation?

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

Despite the good rains, full rivers and dams, water supply interruptions for Mafube residents and businesses are still at the order of the day.

Frankfort in particular, suffer regularly due to burst pipes. Mafube Business Forum (MBF), a local engineering group and even National Treasury in the proposed Municipal Financial Recovery Plan, brought the need for pressure control valves to the attention of municipal officials on several occasions, which would protect the supply pipes and minimise water losses. This advice is still being ignored and instead, prepaid water meters is seen as a priority by Mafube.

It remains MBF's view that it is immoral to force consumers to pay in advance for water that cannot be delivered. MBF recommends that when the opportunity arises, for residents and businesses to insist that their prepaid meters be converted to conventional meters, which will then allow them to exercise their rights in terms of section 102 of the Municipal Systems Act and the Consumer Act.

It is very clear that the municipality lack the management capacity of the water infrastructure, but proper communication to consumers is possibly even more serious. There is currently no mechanism in place to disseminate information in a timely manner among residents and businesses, and information that is disclosed is confusing and contradictory. These can be read as excuses for a municipal department that does not really have answers.

Cornelia is severely affected by any disruptions, as water is piped from Frankfort's treatment works to the town. There is a suspicion that the water supply to Cornelia is not considered important and that it may even be exploited by contractors who transport water by truck to Cornelia.

Villiers' modern treatment plant and distribution network, which was recently completed at great cost, is also regularly shut down due to water losses, the origin of which cannot be determined. It is also worrying that operational standards and proper procedures are not followed, and interruptions are frequently experienced - filter blockages and pumps failing are an indication of this. Shortly before the election, contractors decided to install as many prepaid meters as possible in Villiers, but still after almost 2 months, no income is generated from them.

From Tweeling it is reported that water supply interruptions occur every day for all the above reasons. Residents here are relying on boreholes and storage tanks.

MBF, in its efforts to attract development to our region, is concerned about the water situation and is convinced that if there is no intervention and improvement, our plans will not materialise. MBF will therefore be obliged to approach the courts to institute at least interim measures, but will still insist that the *Mafube Stakeholder's Compact be fully implemented, thereby allowing the community to become involved in the management of the water supply infrastructure. Privatization in collaboration with local government can provide possible solutions.

*Mafube Stakeholder's Compact is an agreement entered into during December 2019 between Mafube Local Municipality, Provincial and National Departments of Finance and Cooperative Governance, and Mafube Business Forum (MBF). MBF is currently in a lawsuit with Mafube to enforce and implement the terms of the agreement.

Please visit MBF at 18A Church Street, Frankfort where we will assist you to arrange for a conventional meter. (Office reopens on 3 January 2022) You can also send an email to info@mafubebf.org or a WhatsApps to 079 145 4295.


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