SANDF intervention in the Vaal comes to an end, but water department has a plan

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The Vaal Dam on the border of Gauteng and the Free State. Dams, pumps, canals and other structures used to move water around the country are falling further into disrepair (PHOTO: Lisa Hnatowicz)
The Vaal Dam on the border of Gauteng and the Free State. Dams, pumps, canals and other structures used to move water around the country are falling further into disrepair (PHOTO: Lisa Hnatowicz)

The Department of Water and Sanitation says the Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT) will be taking over the Vaal River rehabilitation project. 

This, as the intervention from the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) ended in November, the chairperson of the ministerial rapid response task team, Thami Ka Plaatjie, said on Thursday.

Plaatjie was speaking at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Council where Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu launched the national water and sanitation master plan. 

The plan, which was approved by the Cabinet and will be rolled out by the department, aims to address systemic and infrastructural challenges faced by, among other communities, Vanderbijlpark. 

It also aims to secure the continuous and uninterrupted supply of water for communities and businesses.

The army was deployed to repair the Sebokeng waste water plant last year with over 200 soldiers, among them specialist engineers, to find solutions to the Vaal River contamination, News24 reported. 

Last year, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced the army would intervene in the area for a year. 

While the army prepares to end its work, the department said it would not end there.

Plaatjie said on January 31, 2020, a new security company was expected to get to work as the SANDF moved out. 

He added ERWAT would be taking the process of unblocking the sewer system in the Vaal forward, saying three waterworks in the area would be unblocked in the first phase before April next year. 

Plaatjie said an additional water scale would also be created to act as a catalyst for the re-engineering development of the entire Vaal.  

"We know that most of the houses cannot be built, most infrastructures can come to the Vaal, companies cannot invest in the Vaal." 

Plaatjie said there have been a number of stakeholder relations through the office of the mayor to address concerns of the communities and businesses.

He added they have also met with the Save the Vaal organisation to bring them on board with regards to the plans the department had for the reactivation of the Vaal. 

"We are cognisant of other factors, high employment and to ensure that local procurement of services must follow through…" 

Plaatjie said the department had also asked ERWAT to source from the local community.

"There has to be local beneficiation of the interventions of the department." 

Sisulu said the department continued to care about the situation in the Vaal because the water running through the area affected three of the nine provinces in the country. 

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