Council drags heels on offer to help as Xonxa Dam row grows

The Bonkolo dam supplying Komani is empty and the Waterdown Dam, which supplies Whittlesea and Komani, is below 20% of its capacity.
Image: Tembile Sgqolana

Komani’s water crisis has worsened, with the Bonkolo dam supplying the town empty and the Waterdown Dam, which supplies Whittlesea and Komani, is below 20% of its capacity.

Chris Hani district municipality (CHDM) imposed water restrictions more than a year ago. Some areas  depend on carted water.

In 2014, after severe drought began to take hold, CHDM started the R546m Xonxa bulk water transfer project, which was meant to bring water from Xonxa Dam, about 35km away, to Komani.

The switch-on date for the project has been dragged back for more than two years.

In a bid to speed up the project, apolitical forum Let’s Talk Komani offered to help CHDM fast-track the project’s completion.

In a statement, Let’s Talk chair Ken Clark said they were surprised and disappointed by the negative response from the district municipality councillors.

“The project was completed years back and is not operational. CHDM has been unsuccessful in getting the scheme  commissioned, despite many attempts in the past seven years. The scheme is designed to supplement water services to Komani,” he said.

Clark said the organisation was taken aback at criticism levelled against him and Let’s Talk Komani by local government representatives.

Clark said: “Our residents have been plagued by severe water outages for more than two years. We are motivating for access to water for our community, which is a basic human right. There are no hidden agendas, nor was this designed to circumvent protocols and processes. The offer was made in an honest effort to assist, in Thuma Mina style, to give back for the benefit of the entire community.”

He said the offer was made based on his significant electrical and mechanical experience in dealing with teams and projects, solving complex technical issues.

He said: “If we all work together we can deliver a solution in the shortest possible time at a lower cost, without compromising the quality of the job at hand. The water level in the Waterdown Dam is fast approaching crisis levels, which makes the successful commissioning of the Xonxa project a societal imperative.”

CHDM executive mayor Wongama Gela said the item was reported to council.

“Lets Talk’s proposal was characterised as a public-private partnership agreement. Council resolved that the agreement must meet certain conditions before anything it is signed. We need to form a technical team consisting of administration and political arms which will include representative from Lets’ Talk to discuss issues that are preventing the completion of the project and come with solutions,” said Gela.




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