She said despite municipalities being faced with issues of “aged infrastructure” that results to raw sewer flowing all over town and township streets but as government they had been able to raise the number of homes with waterborne sanitation by 25% between 2011 and 2017.
Sasol was also assisting government “to arrest the issue of sewer spillages” in the Secunda area, the Premier said.
Ordinary people in this municipality always accuse politicians of diverting money meant for improving their lives to bankroll their own lavish lifestyles, only using them as voting cows every five years.
Premier Refilwe Mtshweni has promised actions in one of the worst performing Mpumalanga municipalities just a week after co-operative governance minister Zweli Mkhize made a visit to the province.
The Premier visited the Secunda area of eMbalenhle and Leslie over the weekend and found people living with sewer overflows as a result of abandoned and collapsing infrastructure.
She said people cannot be expected to live in such conditions, sewer spilling onto their streets and homes.
Spokesman Zibonele Mncwango said Mtshweni wants the work to solve this problem to begin as soon as this week.
He said R50 million has been set aside by Mtshweni’s government to fix the Gert Sibande district municipality’s problem and other affected municipalities.
It was reported last year that in fact all of Mpumalanga’s waste water treatement plants are leaking, polluting fresh water sources and officials were doing nothing to attend to the problem.
In a statement by Parliament’s water and sanitation committee early this year, officials at Gert Sibande district municipality – the province’s worst municipality – were slammed for their “sluggish” response in attending to the collapsing waste water infrastructure.
Their sluggish response to the issue were found to cause raw sewer to pollute wetlands and the Vaal River, a national river that starts in the Ermelo and Standerton area and goes to supply millions of Gauteng households.
In 2015, AfriForum took samples from the Vaal River water in Standerton to a laboratory and tests revealed that the amount of E. coli and faecal coliform bacteria exceeded 1000 units per 100ml.
Recently, the Gert Sibande district municipality reportedly did tests on 45 water samples taken from Carolina, Nooitgedacht, Bettysgoed, Ekulindeni, Elukwatini, and Fernie.
Out of the 45 samples tested, it was found that 23 have high levels of E-coli and faecal bacterial materials.
“The Premier has called for an urgent removal of sewer spillage in Leslie and eMbalenhle,” spokesman Mncwango said on Facebook.
“She visited Leslie township on Saturday to check progress after she announced last month the provincial government’s commitment to clear sewer spillage which is imposing health hazards on the residents,” Mncwango said.
“She has instructed the human settlement department to start work as soon as next week,” he added.
Mtshweni once spoke about the issue in the Mpumalanga legislature while she was co-operative governance MEC after it was found that the province’s waste water treatment plants did not meet the department of water and sanitation’s standards of proper management of waste water infrastructure.
She said then that the reason these waste water treatment plans were leaking like this and not meeting the standards was because they did not have “maintenance plans”.
Two NGOs are heading to the Tshwane High Court to force government to respect the constitutional rights of people with regard to the air pollution being caused by Mpumalanga’s Sasol and Eskom power plants.