Maputo — Maputo Municipal Council will, as from January, take over responsibility for managing the city’s drainage system which up until now has been run by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing.
The current drainage system is more than 30 years old, and its maintenance costs about 12 million meticais (400,000 US dollars) a year, though if the system is to be truly effective much more needs to be spent.
On Monday, the Minister of Public Works, Cadmiel Muthemba, and the Mayor of Maputo, David Simango, signed an agreement whereby the City Drainage Office ceases to be run by the Ministry and passes into the hands of the City Council.
Previously, the drainage system was divided. The drainage of the low-lying part of the city, near the port, was already in the hands of the water and sanitation department of the City Council.
But the drainage channels elsewhere in the city, and the waste water treatment station in Infulene, were run by the Drainage Office, which in turn fell under the National Water Board, which is a directorate in the Ministry.
The coordinator of the Drainage Office, Daude Carrimo, said there are actually two systems – one for storm water and one for waste water. Between them these two systems occupy an area of 1,500 hectares.
“This system is over 30 years old, and it needs routine and preventive medicine”, he said. “That’s the great challenge facing the municipality”.
Simango said that the transfer ended any ambiguity about who was in charge of Maputo drainage. He recognised that operating such a large and complex system will be a challenge, but he hoped the central government will support the Council in providing technical support to help implement its strategic sanitation and drainage plans.
“This transfer challenges us to increasingly improve management and maintenance of the system, and also to improve integration of the community in managing and maintaining Maputo City’s sanitation and drainage systems”, Simango said.
He added that “the principle is not to transfer problems, but solutions, and we have to perfect the solutions”.
For his part, Muthemba said that the negotiations to transfer responsibility for the drainage system have been under way for about five years. The government was not abandoning the system, but transferring responsibilities to the Municipal Council, “in compliance with the national water and sanitation policy and strategy”.
“These instruments advocate transferring this type of activity to the municipalities”, he said. “It has already happened in Beira, where a company was set up to manage the drainage system. Today the transfer is happening in the capital, and we shall not stop giving our support wherever possible. We shall also transmit to the Council the experience that the National Water Board has in this area”.
The transfer includes all the staff working for the drainage office, and all its material, physical and financial assets.
This is the third service, following basic education and health, which the central government has transferred to the Municipal Council.