Cuba to be paid R6 billion to manage South African ground water

Raul Castro in the Cuban national assembly
Raul Castro in the Cuban national assembly

The government has completed a groundwater strategy aimed at addressing water shortages across the country, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Thursday.

“[O]ur next step is to implement support mechanisms to help municipalities with technical expertise required to manage groundwater,” she told a service delivery summit in Rustenburg, according to a copy of her speech.

Molewa had met Cuban prime minister Raul Castro in her attempt to source the skills required to implement the strategy.

“We have agreed in principle that an agreement that will formalise this exchange of expertise will be signed before the end of the year.”

The department was aware of the water quality problems some municipalities faced, and would continue helping them to improve their standards.

Remediation programmes had to be undertaken to improve the water quality in the Hartbeespoort and Roodeplaat dams.

Efforts were underway to train water management experts, such as mechanical and civil engineers, scientists, and process control technicians.

Molewa said more than R734 million was needed to address the water infrastructure backlog in the North West.

The Bojanala Platinum district municipality had the highest backlog requirement of R404.8m. Ngaka Modiri Molema was second with a backlog of R273.8m.

Molewa said the water infrastructure grants were intended for areas without any safe drinking water.

“The intention is to provide interim services to these communities while they are waiting for services that are in line with our RDP standards.”

An amount of R6.2 billion over the next three years had been allocated to address problems in water infrastructure.

The money would be spent on the 23 district municipalities identified by the president and Cabinet as needing help.

North West was allocated a total of R122m over the medium-term expenditure framework period.

Molewa said another problem affecting supply was the illegal use of water through abstraction and illegal connections. – Sapa