Continued vandalism of Free State water infrastructure a thorny issue

Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, David Mahlobo, during the handover. Photo: Facebook/Free State Government

The scourge of vandalism in Free State municipalities is not only a threat to infrastructure but also a significant setback to the progress made in providing essential services.

Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister David Mahlobo made this remark at the handover of a refurbished pump station at Bluegumbosch, in the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality on Thursday (18/4). He stressed with limited resources the cost of repairing vandalised infrastructure is diverting crucial funds away from improving services.

Mahlobo echoed concerns in Maluti-a-Phofung and other municipalities in the province and called for community involvement to tackle this pressing issue.

In recent months, incidents of vandalism targeting water and sanitation infrastructure in Free State municipalities have been on the rise. From broken pipes to damaged treatment plants, these acts of destruction not only disrupt services but also strain the already limited resources available.

Bluegumbosch’s newly refurbished pump station. Photo: Facebook

The former executive mayor, Gilbert Mokotso, blamed the vandalism on political sabotage against his community organisation, MAP 16, and other parties in the coalition government.

Free State Premier Mxolisi Dukwana sent a stern warning to business owners who instigate criminality and aid the vandalism of critical infrastructure, including the theft of electric cables and damage to roads, in their efforts to get tenders from the government.

‘The municipality’s capacity is not what it’s supposed to be’

Meanwhile, Mahlobo said water and sanitation challenges in Maluti-a-Phofung were compounded by people entrusted with running the institution. He demanded the intervention of the national government.

“One of the concerns is the issue of housekeeping around the operations and maintenance. Our team will be assisting MAP with Vaal Central. Because the municipality’s capacity is not what it’s supposed to be, as confirmed by our green drop report.”

“The water waste systems here are not good, they discharge raw or partially treated sewage into our river system. They have more than 44 pump stations that are not working well and we have five waste systems that are not working well,” explained Mahlobo.

He mentioned Vaal Water and the provincial Department of Water and Sanitation have joined hands to intervene and come up with funds to assist the municipality in addressing these challenges.

“There are serious water challenges. Remember, we experienced drought, especially at the main system at the Fika Phatso dam. But I’m very impressed in terms of the report I was given by our provincial head here,” he added.

Mahlobo said some of the projects in MAP will be completed by next year.

OFM News/Kekeletso Mosebetsi