by David van Vuuren, DA Chief Whip in the Free State Provincial Legislature, 6 November 2017
Last week a delegation by the National Department of Water and Sanitation appeared before the Free State Provincial Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts and Finance to brief the committee on the progress the national department is making in eradicating bucket toilets in the province. It was by far one of the worst presentations made to the committee. The presentation was filled with contradictions and inaccuracies.
The Free State has about 32 000 bucket toilets in use across the province, the department’s target for this year was to eradicate 22 085 bucket toilets by March 2018, but the target date has been moved to June 2018.
Nonetheless, the department has built 16 823 toilet top structures across the Free State at a cost of about R252 million (R15,000.00 per toilet), but sadly, not a single toilet is in working order since the bulk water reticulation and sewerage infrastructure has not yet been established.
These toilet top structures are now subject to vandalism and general decay and would in all probability have to be rebuilt once the bulk infrastructure is eventually established. The ANC-led government is incapable of effective planning and project management.
One does not build a house from the roof down, but from the foundation up. It is illogical to build toilet top structures while the supporting infrastructure remains non-existent, what should have been done is to first establish the bulk infrastructure. Now thousands of families are being patronised across the Free State having to look at toilets they are unable to use.
The national department maintains that it is experiencing a shortfall of R458 million to complete the bucket toilet eradication programme in the Free State over the next two financial years.
The national department allocated a mere R241 million towards the programme in the current financial year, when the actual amount needed is R361 million. It has now requested the Office of the Premier and the Provincial Department of Human Settlements for further financial assistance in order to complete the project.
The national department should not expect too much from the Free State Provincial Government, which finds itself also in a financial quagmire running a deficit of almost R2,6 billion.
The department will not reach its target.
The ANC-led government, and both national and provincial level, clearly does not have the interests of the poor and vulnerable at heart. The ANC maintains that it seeks to restore the dignity of people, but in its actions, like with this bucket toilet eradication programme, it only further patronises the poor and the desperate.
The time for change has come. Should the people of the Free State want proper sanitation and quality basic service delivery, they will have to vote the DA into government to make it a reality. Until then, the better life promised by the ANC will remain only a dream, while the living conditions of the people of the province deteriorate further.