The Department of Water and Sanitation sets yet another deadline for replacing those bucket toilets. Don’t hold your breath, says OUTA.
In a recent parliamentary briefing, the Department of Water and Sanitation indicated that it intends to complete the Bucket Eradication Programme (BEP) by March 2019. “The Department is yet to meet a single deadline since the programme’s inception in 2003,” says Yamkela Ntola, OUTA’s Water and Environment Portfolio Manager.
“Sadly, this continued failure means that people are denied access to adequate sanitation.”
In May 2018, OUTA exposed significant overspending and under-delivery on the BEP, which the Water and Sanitation Minister confirmed in the department’s budget vote this year. In fact, the Minister indicated that overspending will again be reported for 2017/18.
In August 2018, OUTA submitted a report on its investigation into the BEP to the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as part of its submission to the Joint Committee for the parliamentary inquiry into the functioning of the department.
The Joint Committee is yet to explain why this inquiry has not gone ahead despite numerous reports on gross corruption and maladministration in the department.
OUTA successfully applied for access to information on BEP contracts awarded during 2015/16 to aid its investigation. “The information will aid OUTA’s investigation into the programme and hopefully allow us to isolate issues associated with the programme as well as identify the failures of all stakeholders,” says Ntola.
After assessing this information, OUTA will submit an additional report on this investigation to Parliament.
Of further concern to OUTA is the department’s failure to publish the Blue and Green Drop reports which assess South Africa’s water quality. OUTA wrote to the department earlier this year asking for the reports. The department’s Chief Director of Water Services Regulation, Lerato Mokoena, told OUTA at the time that the reports were delayed due to lack of capacity in the department but that “completion is imminent and should be expected to be communicated to all stakeholders before the end of May 2018”. To date, no reports have been forthcoming despite promises by the department to Parliament.