CentralSAFS task team to deal with Sedibeng Water, municipal debt issues
─── LUCKY NKUYANE 12:18 Tue, 26 Oct 2021
The Free State Provincial Government has established a task team to delve into the sustainability of Sedibeng Water.
The water utility previously asked that two municipalities in the province pay up their debt, which is running into billions of rands. The Head of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Mokete Duma, says this task team should also establish if municipalities owing the water utility, are paying their accounts. These monthly payments are running into millions of rands at a time.
OFM News previously reported that the Bothaville-based Nala Local Municipality owes Sedibeng Water over R245 million whilst the Welkom -based Matjhabeng Local Municipality owes it over R4 billion. Duma says the water board faced difficulties and could not operate fully due to the debt owed to it by these municipalities.
“It’s one of the entities that is not getting money directly from the national government fiscus but they are expected to generate their own income through the sale of water. However, because municipalities are also having challenges, as people are not paying for rates and taxes and people are unemployed. So, these are some of the problems. The established task teams will be dealing broadly with those issues,” he adds.
Sedibeng Water had cut water to towns such as Bothaville, Welkom, and Wesselsbron last week whilst demanding their arrears.
OFM News previously reported that a payment agreement was reportedly reached between Sedibeng Water and Matjhabeng to restore the water supply. Matjhabeng spokesperson, Kgojane Matutle, told OFM News that the payment agreement was born from a series of meetings between the municipality, provincial government, as well as the Deputy Ministers of Cogta in the last few days.
Water supply was also restored to the Nala Local Municipality on Thursday after residents had been without water for at least two days.
This, after Sedibeng Water had requested an urgent payment of over R26 million, which is in arrears. This R26 million is a portion of the over R245 million debt owed by the municipality to the water utility. The Municipal Manager, Nokufa Radebe, however, told OFM News that the municipality could not pay R26 million but could only manage to pay its monthly installment of R4 to R5 million.
Radebe said she understood that the water cuts instituted by Sedibeng Water are as a result of the power utility Eskom restricting power supply to the water utility, which is also struggling to pay its Eskom debt.