Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu recently visited residents of Big Five Hlabisa Municipality in uMkhanyakude District to discuss the ongoing efforts to restore their water supply. The Minister aimed to assess the progress of refurbishment and upgrading of water schemes in Big Five Hlabisa and Mtubatuba local municipalities. These efforts primarily focused on communities facing significant water challenges in the district.
Interlinked Potable Water Schemes
Minister Mchunu emphasized the importance of interlinked potable water schemes designed for the communities of eDengeni, Mkhaliphi, Nhlwathi, and Matshamhlophe in Hlabisa. The community’s sustainable and continuous water supply will benefit significantly once the trans-boundary Mandlakazi Regional Bulk Water Scheme is completed. In the meantime, the government is working closely with the District Municipality to fix and upgrade existing pipes and valves in Nhlwathi, Mkhaliphi, and Matshamhlophe, resulting in some communities receiving water.
The visit included Minister Mchunu, Deputy Ministers David Mahlobo and Judith Tshabalala, Traditional Leaders Inkosi Mdletshe and Inkosi Gumede, uMkhanyakude District Mayor Cllr Sphile Mdaka, Hlabisa Local Municipality Mayor Cllr C Khumalo, District and Local Municipal Exco, Mhlathuze Water, and Department officials. The community engagement aimed to assess the state of water supply schemes in the district, with a focus on Section 63 intervention projects in Big Five Hlabisa and Mtubatuba local municipalities.
Section 63 Provision
The Department of Water and Sanitation placed the District Municipality under Section 63 of the Water Services Act in February 2022 in response to the water challenges in the region. This provision allows the Minister to take over the management, operations, and maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure in the district to restore dysfunctional services. Mhlathuze Water was appointed as the Implementing Agent of this directive and is currently working on various work packages and schemes in the district.
Hlabisa Water Supply Scheme
A key water supply scheme in the region is the Hlabisa Water Supply Scheme, which covers the Hlabisa Local Municipality area and sources potable water from the Mandlakazi Water Treatment Works. The Mandlakazi Water Treatment Works is currently undergoing optimization, refurbishment, and upgrades to increase its daily capacity from 30 to 60 megalitres.
Minister Mchunu’s Assurance
During the community engagement, some residents expressed frustration over the lack of available water. Minister Mchunu urged patience as the department and stakeholders continue to work tirelessly to ensure the full functionality of various water schemes. He highlighted that some schemes only require an upgrade of existing pumps and valves to increase the volume of water abstracted.
Addressing the issue of delivering basic services based on political affiliation, Minister Mchunu emphasized that every citizen is entitled to receive services, regardless of their political stance. With the collective commitment of various stakeholders, including Inkosi Mdletshe, the District Municipality, Mhlathuze Water, and the communities themselves, Minister Mchunu is confident that potable water will soon be supplied for domestic use and economic growth enhancement in the area. The government’s focus remains on finding sustainable solutions to ensure access to clean water for all communities in the uMkhanyakude District.