Umgeni promises better tariffs after strong financial results

2012-10-26 00:00

UMGENI Water has promised affordable tariffs and continued investment in infrastructure following a strong financial showing for the year.

Armed with a surplus of R519 million for 2012, the parastatal says it has placed the future firmly on the agenda for its customers.

Results released to the media at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban yesterday show how the bulk water supplier has spent the last five years gradually chipping away at its debt.

Reacting to the figures, board chairperson Andile Mahlalutye said the Pietermaritzburg-based water authority boasted a sound financial position. “The ultimate winners are the people we serve,” he said, before new CEO Cyril Gamede, back for his second stint at Umgeni, unveiled a long list of major projects underway.

The entity is proceeding with a five-year infrastructure rollout worth R4,2 billion. A whole host of dams, pipelines, treatment plants and pump stations are in the construction phase while others have been put out to tender and even more are in the scoping and feasibility phases.

Completed projects include Maphephethwa Water Treatment Works for 35 000 people in rural Inanda to receive potable water, Mhlabatshane dam and pipeline and the second phase of the South Coast pipeline to augment the Umzinto water treatment works.

Gamede also said the company was taking water security seriously and was exploring desalination of sea water and the treatment of effluent as future sources. He said more dams would also be necessary.

Water quality remains one of Umgeni’s bragging points and again it showed this with excellent outcomes in four risk categories, as well as achieving nine Blue Drop awards in conjunction with the municipalities it supplies. The awards indicate excellence in water quality.

Umgeni services six local and district municipalities in KZN and supplies water to nearly five million people. Sales volumes rose only slightly year on year, but by trimming operating and administrative expenses, Umgeni was able to return a healthy set of financials.

Figures were also boosted by a national grant of R131 million.

Gamede admitted there was still work to be done bringing some of Umgeni’s ageing waste water infrastructure up to standard. These facilities would be targeted for upgrading in the next “two to three years”.

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