Shock increase in water tanker fee for rural people

2011-08-12 00:00

RURAL residents of six municipalities who rely on the uMgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM) for water distribution are to be charged R3 500 for a water tanker to supply a single homestead during a funeral or wedding.

The new charge came into effect on July 1 and has created anger among rural people.

Previously, according to sources, the municipality supplied the water tankers gratis to funerals on request, and charged about R90 plus a delivery fee based on mileage for tankers for events like weddings.

A resident who declined to be named said, “We need to know how the municipality justifies such an exorbitant increment on water supply.

“One water tank is about 15 000 litres and the municipality has a policy to provide six kilolitres [6 000 litres] of free basic water.”

The six municipalities affected are Mpofana, Impendle, Richmond, Mkhambathini, uMngeni and Umshwathi.

UMDM municipal manager Sibusiso Khuzwayo said the tariff was arrived at after a rigorous assessment of the actual cost of service provision for which it is charged by an independent service provider.

He said the council has budgeted R9 million in the current financial year for the provision of free basic water to all its consumers.

“Over and above that the council spends about R15 million per annum on the provision of water tankers throughout the district, for the direct benefit of the poor and the rural folk,” he said.

Khuzwayo said more than 90% of its capital budget is spent on water and sanitation projects for rural people, adding that water is a scarce commodity and the water business must be managed sustainably.

“The Auditor-General even remarked yesterday about how well the municipality is administered.

“It is with these principles in mind that the council levies tariffs for the usage of water, over and above these thresholds,” said Khuzwayo.

However the council will consider making concessions in special circumstances, in partnership with local municipalities.

Khuzwayo said the matter will be discussed again at the council’s next executive committee meeting on August 25.

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