South Africa: Good Progress Made in Vaal River Clean-Up

The Managing Director of the East Rand Water Care Company (ERWAT), Tumelo Gopane, says steady progress is being made in the Vaal River clean-up project.

Giving an update to the Water and Sanitation Minister during a recent visit, Gopane said a lot of waste water networks in Vereeniging have been cleared, which has resulted in the increase of water flow to waste water treatment plants.

"Before unblocking the sewage systems, only 20% of waste water could reach the treatment plants and 80% of it would be lost to spillage," Gopane said.

The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, recently visited the Vaal River Intervention Project in Emfuleni, Johannesburg. She said her department is working to ensure that spillage in the Vaal River does not happen again.

"It has taken us a long time to get to this point, as we know that the problem of spillage has been going on for an extended period of time. However, I would like to assure the community and the rest of South Africa that government is committed to doing things differently, and to ensure that people live in dignity," Sisulu said.

She appealed to the local community to protect their infrastructure and ensure that there is no vandalism. She also emphasised the importance of all stakeholders in the Vaal River Intervention Project to play their part in order to ensure the success of the project.

The business community has committed itself to working with the project leaders and Vaal community to ensure that the intervention succeeds.

Gopane appealed to communities not to throw foreign objects in the waste water pipelines. He also called on Emfuleni Local Municipality to enforce the existing and updated by-laws, and to educate communities of the gravity of throwing unwanted objects in the sewage system.

A follow up meeting is expected to be held in June, where ERWAT will provide details on the project's progress.

About the project

ERWAT, an entity of government specialising in wastewater treatment, was appointed to take over and build on the progress that began with the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) between December 2018 and end of November 2019.

Ten contractors were appointed and 117 local people from Emfuleni were employed for the project.

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