Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to share in this festive occasion as we celebrate the opening of two key infrastructure in the form of the Aqueduct and the Reservoir that will go a long way in addressing water challenges in the Durban Heights Systems.
Today’s event marks a breakthrough in particular for the communities which have been suffering from a lack of access to water in the areas surrounding Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu and many areas in the north of Durban which rely on this network for water.
We are also here to witness the commissioning of the aqueduct that draws water from the Nagle Dam and supplies to the various reservoirs in the connected water infrastructure.
It will be recalled that in April 2022, what was the worst floods in the history of our province devastated among others our water infrastructure in a major way, leading to damage worth billions across the province.
In the result, EThekwini Metro experienced major water disruptions due to the damage to two, out of four of Umgeni Water’s Nagle Aqueducts.
These aqueducts supply water to Umgeni Water’s biggest water treatment works called the Durban Heights. This waterworks normally supplies about 540 mega litres per day to the city. This capacity was reduced to about 350 Mega litres per day a major inconvenience to many surrounding communities which experienced water shortages.
As we have indicated before, the Tongaat Waterworks that supplies the whole of Tongaat suffered serious damage that has taken months to repair. In the interim, the municipality had to deploy water tankers and also worked with KZN COGTA to procure a package plant to supply water temporarily.
Work was done on the distribution infrastructure which enabled the refill of a number of reservoirs.
In the months gone by, government worked together across spheres to move the needle to restore the flow of water and to provide much-needed relief to the affected communities. There are not many provinces in the world which would have recovered in less than a year without international assistance from the position we found ourselves in April 2022.
This recovery of water infrastructure is part of our overall rebuilding programme which in December, saw us move all flood victims from mass care centres to temporary accommodation.
We also announced in December the closure of 135 Mass Care Centres set up in uMgungundlovu, Ilembe, Ugu, King Cetshwayo Districts at in eThekwini Metro – the epicentre of the floods disaster.
We moved at high speed to relocate flood victims to dignified accommodation. Among others we have identified suitable land and started to build close to 2000 Temporary Residential Units (TRUs).
The recommissioning of this Reservoir is good news for water security in the northern areas of Durban, including its industrial zones and will allow for business and industrial expansion and job creation.
Water is our number one priority in KwaZulu-Natal. The sixth administration stated this as its priority goal when it assumed office in May 2019. We remain convinced that planning for water security and efficient distribution is a key task of government at all levels. It is against that background that the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Water Master Plan was developed as a blueprint for delivering water as the human and Constitutional right of our fellow citizens.
I wish to appeal to residents, industries, and businesses to play their part by paying for water provision so that we can maintain and expand our water infrastructure. As a caring, pro-poor government, we will continue to offer free basic water to qualifying, indigent households. Let us report water leaks, conserve and use water sparingly understanding that water is a critical but scarce service.
We are excited that numerous jobs – skilled, semi-skilled and for general workers were created for the communities during the reconstruction of the aqueduct.
Allow me to congratulate the teams led by uMngeni Water under the guidance of the Department of Water and Sanitation that have worked day and night, to make this day possible which radically changes the lives of the surrounding communities for ever.
We are determined to rebuild our province and nothing will stand in our way.
We are moving forward ever and will not be distracted. So the purpose of my remarks is to thank the Minister Mr Honourable Senzo Mchunu and the entire Department of Water and Sanitation which was instrumental in this rebuilding process, COGTA and all our stakeholders.
Honourable Minister, this huge investments in water provision has an even deeper meaning for the people which is the meaning of freedom and democracy.
Minister Mchunu continues to demonstrate much needed leadership which has been instrumental in leading us out of this crisis.
Last but not least, we wish to thank the people of KwaZulu-Natal for their patience throughout.
Much has been achieved, much remains to be done but let us continue to work together to build a better KwaZulu- Natal.