Govt cuts ties with 'corrupt' water trucking service providers

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Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu handed over a fleet of water tankers to municipalities in the Eastern Cape on Friday. Pic: Malibongwe Dayimani
Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu handed over a fleet of water tankers to municipalities in the Eastern Cape on Friday. Pic: Malibongwe Dayimani
  • Six months after the Water and Sanitation Department outlawed the hiring of water trucks, the Eastern Cape government received a fleet of 20 water tankers, that will dispatch water to water-scarce areas in the province .
  • Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said in East London on Friday that the water trucking system in the province was open to too much corruption.  
  • The water entity, Amatola Water, accused unscrupulous service providers of engineering a water crisis by sabotaging water infrastructure for profiteering.  

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu handed over 20 new water tankers worth R26 million to Eastern Cape municipalities as the department announced that it has cut ties with “corrupt” water trucking service providers profiteering from an “engineered” water crisis.

The tankers were handed over to the mayors of different municipalities in the province, during an event held at Nahoon Dam in East London on Friday afternoon.

Speaking to News24, the water and sanitation department’s entity - Amatola Water CEO Portia Makhanya said contracting service providers to cart water to communities was a costly exercise that harmed government.

She said the entity, which supports municipalities with water services, bought its own fleet to prevent profiteering.

“During the hiring of trucks, vandalism of water infrastructure was rife because then there was suddenly a crisis, a man-made crisis that would force you to hire at inflated prices but because water is life, you have no choice but to hire,” Makhanya said.

She added that it cost Amatola Water more than R150 000 per month to hire a single truck adding that the entity was paying 60 trucks to transport water across the province.

ALSO READ | 3 million South Africans without water, tanks not enough - SALGA

She revealed that Amatola Water spent R60 million on hiring trucks last year alone.

Makhanya said the new tankers will fetch water from municipal water treatment plants to communities at very low costs, servicing all municipalities in the Eastern Cape except the two metros - Buffalo City Metro and Nelson Mandela Bay.

She added that the tanks were purchased with funding from National Treasury. 

Sisulu said she, along with the Minister of Cooperative Governance have banned water trucking because it was so open to corruption. "It is already outlawed. When we met with the MEC’s of local governments, they themselves were complaining about people who were profiteering from the water crisis.

“Water should not be something we profit from, so we took a resolution in September last year together with the MECs of local governments, with the minister of Cogta and we banned trucking,” added Sisulu.

Sisulu said people who were employed by the service providers are urged to approach her department for employment.

“We are asking them to come forward, we might employ them fully in driving these trucks,” said Sisulu.

The Eastern Cape Black Business Forum welcomed Sisulu’s move to kick out “criminals” from the government system.

The forum’s CEO Ace Ncobo said: “We condemn corruption in the strongest terms, and we believe that anybody who conducts his or her business by utilising corrupt means is not a real entrepreneur. We support the minister in her endeavours in cleaning up the water and sanitation department and its entities.”

Ncobo further said for a service provider to be involved in corruption with the State, there must be an equally corrupt government official working with them. He added that the minister should also look internally into the department.

The tankers will fill hundreds of water tanks bought by the department last year which are currently “strategically” placed in water-scarce areas to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, Sisulu added.   

According to the minister, the water tanks are for disadvantaged communities for the time being while the department was busy rolling out infrastructure.  

The acquisition of the water tankers, which will be managed by Amatola Water, will provide work for 44 people, said Sisulu.   

“Each tanker will have a driver, a person who pours water into the tanks and possibly a third person who will make sure the tanks are cleaned and properly looked after. As we provide you with the tanks, we also create work opportunities,” added Sisulu.

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