Blue Drop Status awarded to district

2012-06-02 00:00

THE uMgungundlovu District Municipality — which now distributes water to 93% of rural areas in its seven constituent municipalities — has been awarded Blue Drop Status for its performance in this regard by the Water Affairs Department.

Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee made the announcement yesterday in tabling the district’s budget for the 2012/13 financial year, which was unanimously approved by the full council.

The overall budget has increased by 24% from R478 million to about R595 million, which was made possible in the main by the transfer of bulk customers from Umgeni Water and a 10% increase in government grants.

Total operating expenditure has been pegged at R482,572 million, with employee-related costs constituting 30% of the operating budget. Bhamjee said that having received four consecutive clean audits, the municipality would now focus on maintaining its performance in that regard and on evolving into a dynamic metropolitan area by 2016.

“We are now going to shift from being water-centric to becoming citizen-centric to mark the coming of age of the municipality. This will be signalled by the takeover of the environmental health services, for the first time, on July 1.”

Bhamjee said the municipality would increase its focus on economic development issues.

He said the municipality had concluded a funding partnership with the Dutch government-funded ORIO programme worth R138 million for the 2012/13 financial year.

“This grant funding has leveraged a further R162 million loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, resulting in R300 million being pumped into water infrastructure over the next three years,” said Bhamjee.

He said the municipality had applied to the Co-operative Governance Department for a review of its grading status from grade four to five. This would mean uMgungundlovu’s equitable share of national funding and councillors’ salaries would increase.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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