Sebokeng water treatment plant 'not up to standard', billions needed to fix

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Members of the NCOP during their visit at the Sebokeng treatment plant.
Members of the NCOP during their visit at the Sebokeng treatment plant.
Ntwaagae Seleka
  • Billions of rands could be pumped into the embattled Sebokeng water treatment plant.
  • The plant is not fulfilling its mandate, leaving the streets and roads covered in human excrement.
  • NCOP members raised concerns about the progress of the plant.

The embattled Sebokeng water treatment plant could need between eight and R11 billion to be fully functional.

This was revealed by National Council of Provinces (NCOP) member Dennis Ryder during a visit to the plant.

The visit was led by NCOP chairperson Amos Masondo.

"Some of the information we received at the plant by managers showed some improvement. But, when we got to the end of our visit, we were told that water released out, which should have been treated, still contained a high degree of faecal matter.

"The quality of the plant is not up to standard. There was a mismatch between what we were told and what we saw," said Ryder.

As a DA member in the NCOP, Ryder raised concerns about the plant.

"I live in the Vaal. I will continue driving the message about the treatment plant. Progress has not been up to scratch. Two years have passed, and not enough has been done.

"There has been little progress concerning wastewater coming into the plant. There is not nearly enough to make the difference with the sewer spilling into Vaal River."

Ryder promised that more oversight work would be conducted to ensure the improvement of the plant and sewer treatment in the entire Vaal area.

READ | SANDF pulls out all the stops to tackle Vaal River contamination

He said the complaints raised by the DA in Parliament had forced the NCOP to visit the plant.

"If you walk through the streets of Sebokeng and other areas of the Emfuleni municipality, there are rivers of sewage flowing into the streets. Homes are flooded with sewage. Some people live with daily spillages inside their houses for five years now.

Some residents have dug trenches in their yard to divert the sewage to flow to the streets. The government has forgotten the people of Sebokeng. Emfuleni has allowed things to get out of control.

"The new Emfuleni administration has inherited this old problem. Local, provincial and national governments have to work together to fix the mess in Emfuleni. This is going to affect the future generation.

"Sewer spillages into the Vaal River affect four provinces, not only Gauteng. We have been told that it is going to take between R8 billion and R11 billion to fix the problem. There needs to be a real commitment from the national government to sort the problem out," Ryder said.

He said the government should appoint relevant experts and set strict deadlines to ensure the money was not wasted.

ALSO READ | Vaal Pollution: 'It's Nomvula's fault'

Masondo said more work needed to be done.

"There is a need to increase capacity and necessary skills at the plant. Progress is noticeable. A lot of ground has been covered since we were here two years ago. We are getting there.

"I am confident that we are on our way there. We have received a report indicating issues that need to be pursued. We are here to add our weight. Where we can add progress, we will do so. 

"We are beginning to work together across all three spheres of government. We are receiving a bit of support from the local government. There is a sense that labour unions and residents want to assist."

Masondo said there was hope that the visit would yield positive results.

"A lot of money has been pumped into this intervention. Are we happy with the result? I would say there is a gap between the money spent on the plant and the results we have.

"We could have done much better. We can do better. The money spent should speak to work that has been done and work that will be done when we move into the future," said Masondo.


Meanwhile, NCOP members were confronted by complaining municipal workers.

Workers affiliated with Samwu complained about staff shortages, a lack of personal protective equipment and vehicles.

They claimed that only three security guards were deployed to the plant, forcing criminals to target it.

Masondo addressed the workers and promised that their demands would be escalated to Emfuleni, the provincial government, and the Department and Water and Sanitation for urgent intervention.

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