R600m owed to ORT water authority

Mayor Meth not yet ready to give up on collecting old debts

PREMIUM

Residents, business, civil society and the government together owe the OR Tambo district municipality R600m for water services.
This revelation was made by mayor Nomakhosazana Meth at a media breakfast in Mthatha on Wednesday.
Meth, tabling the service delivery and budget implementation plan for the district authority and detailing progress made in the first quarter of the 2018-19 financial year (July to September), indicated that ORT was still battling to collect everything due to it.
“At the moment, we are owed more than R600m.
“We have collected on new debts [less than 180 days old] but we still have a problem with collecting on old debts.”
Some of these are a couple of years old, but Meth said they were not yet ready to write off the debts as unrecoverable.
The district authority was appointed in 2003 as the official water services provider and water authority for the five local municipalities in its jurisdiction: King Sabata Dalindyebo, Port St Johns, Mhlontlo, Nyandeni and Ingquza Hill.
Meth revealed that according to their own targets for the quarter they had hoped to collect around 75% in outstanding debt but had fallen short and collected around 63% on new debts.
But she also indicated that they had now resolved to appoint a private company to help with the older debt.
The mayor said the problem was worsened by the fact that the district was 93% rural in nature with only 7% of its population staying in urban areas where they had to pay for water services.
The mayor also revealed that they had spent R21m on building 2,007 ventilated improved pit toilets across the district during the three months.
The water authority had also been able to distribute 51 million litres of water, she said.
This included using private water carters as well as municipal resources to distribute water to villages and other water-scarce areas.
Some of the water was distributed to families who were preparing for family gatherings and funerals.
About 35 standalone water schemes had been fixed as part of the maintenance budget of the district municipality during the quarter.
“We are definitely making progress on our service delivery and infrastructure development targets,” she said.
Mthatha Ratepayers and Residents Association spokesperson Madyibi Ngxekana disputed Meth’s claim of how much water had been distributed, saying water pipe bursts and leakages were a daily occurrence in KSD in particular.
“Did she count those many litres of water that were wasted?”
He also questioned why the water service function was taken from local municipalities in the first place and given over to the district...

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