Department Of Water And Sanitation Construction, The Department gave a brief background of the history of the Construction Management Unit (CMU), saying that since the unit’s inception the approach had always been labour intensive until after 1998 when personnel on a contract basis was allowed. The presentation spoke to the staffing of the five CMU regions and their number of contracted staff as well as the demographics of the unit and its transformation efforts.
The presentation then spoke to possible business sub-unit options because the total budget allocation to the unit had decreased while the number of projects had increased. The Department gave an overview of the current projects. It then spoke to the assets of the CMU, the acquisition cost and the net book value for the yellow and white fleet, stationary machines, equipment, houses and offices. The Department said that construction equipment was verified twice a year and that the last forensic audit done by PWC yielded a very good result with minor findings. A list of suppliers providing services for the 2017/2018 financial year and the amounts paid to them was provided as an appendix.
Members asked about the resettled communities of the Nandoni dam area because the Committee went there on an oversight visit and saw how houses had become derelict. What was the capacity of the CMU? Did the CMU have an account? How were the unit’s monies accounted for? What informed the transformation agenda of the unit and was there a plan in place? How did the unit report to the directorate of NWRI? Members wanted the unit to discuss the Clanwilliam dam issue. Who were the suppliers? What assurances were there that suppliers were previously disadvantaged individuals? Where was the asset register for the housing being built? Members said the CMU was given the Clanwilliam dam project but then it was taken away from them. Was there a future for the CMU? Members said more had to be done with less money so therefore the Department had to do the construction itself. Members said the unit appeared to do less with more and had overspent its budget and not achieved its targets. Members wanted to know the number of projects for the financial year that were completed compared to the number that had been planned. Members said the organogram was not representative of the population of the country at present. Members said there appeared to be discrepancies in the spreadsheet in the financial allocation for some items. Members said that the Grootdraai single quarters project had been postponed and there was no budget, yet a Service Level Agreement (SLA) been signed. How accessible was the CMU, if the Committee wanted to do oversight? Why were projects postponed and who confirmed the projects?
Why was the AG concerned with accuracy of the fleet? What were the PWC audit report findings? Did the CMU have regional offices? Members asked where the masterplan was which was supposed to be received by the Committee that day? Members asked what areas did the Construction North, South and East Units serve? Members said the AG had identified several challenges on the coordination role of infrastructure delivery. How far had the unit come in addressing the challenges? How far was the establishment of the Water Infrastructure Agency and what role would the CMU have in the agency? Members wanted to see the asset register. Members asked what the maintenance plan for Hartbeespoort dam was. Members spoke about the Tsolo dam construction project where the Minister had wanted then Minister Gordhan to approve that the contract be awarded to the Chinese. Members was concerned because the people in the Eastern Cape had been promised the building of this dam and that 6000 jobs would have been created. Members said it appeared that the construction budget requirement might not be the total project cost because other costs escalated the total cost. Was this correct? Was the Department looking at other alternate funding models for projects? Was there benchmarking with BRICS countries which faced similar challenges taking place? Members said a revised water tariff model, where infrastructure use could be factored into the pricing strategy could be another option. Could the Minister give a progress report on the task team. What was the Minister’s view on Overberg municipality that had not responded as to how public funds were being used? Who took ownership of a dam on its completion? Could the Minister investigate Toga dam? Members asked if the Voelvlei dam was being cleaned.
In reply to some of the questions, the Minister said they were seeking to do transformation in line with the organisational review of the Department and the NDP.
She said the water sector was characterised by uncoordinated incoherence and it was not properly managed. So, the Department was calling for a Water Agency of SA. There was an independent facilitator whose team was looking at what SA had in the form of structures dealing with water. The process had started and it was important that the existing capacity within the three arms of government be utilised. If there was one point of entry with regards to the water sector, then savings could be achieved. The Minister said that the establishment of the Water Agency was trying to bring together the capacity of the state on issues of water and water infrastructure.
The Minister said the sustainability of the interventions on the waters of the Hartbeespoort dam was a challenge because the Department of Water Affairs had continuously focussed on the removal of water hyacinth when in fact the problem was upstream where waste water structures of Madibeng municipality were not functioning. Hence Hartbeespoort needed an integrated intervention. There had been communication with the Premiers of the two provinces. The DG had been assigned the task to implement such an integrated intervention.
She said the Department had executed 47% of its APP during the most difficult time in SA when there was a drought and yet there had been no outbreak of a water borne disease. R200m was now needed to channel water to the Western Cape, which was not budgeted for but they were a reality and the Department would not let the people of the Western Cape suffer. The Department needed to save the farmers of the Western Cape, even though this was a function of the municipalities. COGTA coordinated disaster management and should support and oversee local government. The Department wanted an MOU with COGTA and Treasury to bind them in terms of the delivery of the interventions.