FS municipality blames residents for sewerage crisis

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The financially strained Kopanong Local Municipality in the Free State blames the ongoing sewage spillage in the Lephoi township in Bethulie on residents’ alleged refusal to stop blocking pipelines despite numerous appeals.

Kopanong’s response comes on the back of concerns raised by community members regarding raw sewage spilling into a nearby stream, on and off for years.

Kopanong spokesperson, Solomzi Phama, tells OFM News, the municipality has cautioned the community to desist from throwing stones and other objects into the sewage lines. To their disappointment, however, the problem persists.

“It’s not a sewage spillage that is constantly there but comes as and when people throw rocks and other objects in sewerage pipes.” Phama says Kopanong is currently engaging Bloem Water on having the matter resolved. Bloem Water is yet to confirm if they are indeed being engaged on the matter.

This municipality, falling under the Xhariep District, is no stranger to controversy over its mammoth debt to Bloem Water. In June 2018, the provincial government, led by Premier Sisi Ntombela, stepped in to assist the municipality to make payment to the water board following protests in Jagersfontein over severe water restrictions on the municipality. The mining town at the time was already facing issues with water supply due to the infrastructure when the restrictions were imposed. In July 2018, the municipality installed section valves in Jagersfontein to ensure that water supply reaches all residents, especially those in uphill areas.

The local government audit outcomes by the Auditor-General’s office over the 2017/18 period reveal Kopanong is the second biggest contributor to debt in the province, owing creditors close to R200 million. Matjhabeng is the only other municipality that owes more than Kopanong, owing creditors more than R2,3 billion over the same period.