Vhembe’s water woes far from over

By: Rofhiwa Phaswana

pridenews-logoThe water crisis in Limpopo’s Vhembe District Municipality (VDM) appears to be worsening, especially for those living along Nandoni dam outside Thohoyandou.
Completed in 2005, the multi-million Nandoni dam was meant to supply to more than 20 villages. Years after the dam’s completion, villages continue to rely on untreated water from the Luvuvhu river.

The Department of Water and Sanitation entered into an agreement with the Vhembe District Municipality
in 2015 that would see Lepelle Northern Water (LPNW) supplying water in Vhembe through the municipal water
infrastructure grant. According to the agreement, LPNW had to operate at Nandoni Dam and three other water
schemes in the district. One of the biggest dams in the province hasn’t significantlychanged people’s lives as even the closest communities to the dam such as Mutoti,

Dumasi and Dididi are still experiencing water shortages.

VDM spokesperson Matodzi Ralushai has indicated that the district municipality remains a water authority,
while the LPNW is managing water from the dam. He says to date, the dam supplies water to Malamulele, Vuwani
and it will go to other areas such as Malavuwe just to mention a few. Ralushai further adds that surrounding areas such as Tshiulungoma and Tshikhudini get water 24 hours because they are near the dam, however, some community members are worried that the dam is serving the elite who cruise boats while the intended
beneficiaries don’t have water.

The water crisis in Vhembe forced Executive Mayor Florence Radzilani to decline a R1.5 million Mayoral car in 2016 when she instructed the municipality to use the money to buy more crane trucks to help ease the shortages. The District also spent R8 million in August 2017 on two water tankers adding to the 16 the municipality already had at the time in order to supply rural villages that had no water, and six cranes to fix broken boreholes.

The situation almost turned from bad to worse late last year, when Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane threatened to cut water supply to the municipality. VDM was among thirty municipalities that had failed to honour outstanding water bills to the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Matjhabeng Local Municipality in the Free State owed the most at R1.8-billion, followed by Vhembe which owed  over R642-million.

Ralushai told Pride News that the two parties have entered into an agreement that the municipality had to
pay R40 million upfront and R3.5 million monthly installments. Adding that the municipality is paying off the debt
amicably, and that last month it paid R40 million to the department. He continues to say the municipality, however, lodged a dispute against the amount determined by the department as it doesn’t understand how it came into such a figure as most of the boreholes they are being charged for are not functional.

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