Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle visited Makhanda (Grahamstown) on 17 April to lead a task team assessing progress in the municipality with drought intervention initiatives. This comes as more than R880 million has been distributed to various municipalities across the province, including R22 million for Makana’s water service infrastructure. Masualle had stern criticism for Makana, and called for urgent and immediate action.
“If you have R20 to do everything, you have to work out what you can do with it. We can’t live beyond our means – we have to find creative ways to be self-reliant. We need the community to subscribe to the same vision of a viable Makana. You want this municipality to be able to stand by itself.” -Masualle
The Office of the Premier had funded Amatola Water for day to day operations at the city’s water treatment works “to ensure continued water availability of water in the area” the Premier’s spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, said in a media release. This was a decision by the Provincial Executive.
“The task team is also monitoring the building of capacity in the municipality. Additional skills will also be dispatched to the municipality for maintenance of water and sanitation.”
Kupelo said the Premier had also sent water engineers to assist in neighbouring Ndlambe Municipality.
Masualle’s visit kicked off with a briefing in the City Hall council chambers, where Municipal Manager Moppo Mene detailed Makana’s infrastructural and water challenges, as well as how the municipality was tackling them.
Mene said Amatola Water had returned to Makana Municpality on 7 March and as a result, the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works was operating very well. Amatola’s contract is currently for three months, but a push for an extension was urgently expressed by Makana’s leadership.
Phase 2 of ongoing upgrades at James Kleynhans is scheduled to begin in June, Mene added that new contractors needed to be appointed for phases 3 and 4. Estimated completion for the entire project is 2021.
Mene later told Grocott’s Mail that James Kleynhans was currently producing 13 megalitres per day, despite a production capacity of 10ML. “It’s pushing the treatment works, absolutely,” he said. On the western supply, Mene said repairs were still under way at Waainek.
According to Amatola officials, the current dam levels for the western side were 27 percent for Howieson’s Poort and 7 percent for Settlers Dam. However, Mene repeatedly assured Masualle that there will be no day zero for Makhanda.
Masualle noted calls for Makana to be dissolved and recognised the work Makana had done to improve functionality within the municipality; however, he remained critical of what still needed attention.
Masualle said Makana had been identified earlier in the year as a prime candidate for intervention; however short-term plans were needed to get started.
“We could only work to the extent that there were plans in place that lend themselves to that support. I think it’s important that we are quick to get those plans in place,” he said.
Following the briefing at the City Hall, Masualle, Makana leadership and other provincial stakeholders visited James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works, as well as a borehole site.
Masualle was assured that at the time the treatment works was operating at the best possible capacity. Gift of the Givers Western Cape Project Manager Ali Sablay welcomed the Premier outside Ntsika Secondary School, the site of one of Makhanda’s new boreholes. The Gift of the Givers’ efforts were applauded wholly by the Premier and Makana leadership.