With less than a week before eight additional grades are set to return to schools across the country, a parliamentary reply from the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has revealed that as on 25 June 2020, of the 3 475 schools which were earmarked to receive water tanks and water refilling services, 3 335 schools have received, whilst 140 schools are still awaiting these services.
The reply further states that a total of 1 712 tanks have been installed in schools. In contrast to the Minister’s previous indication that schools’ state of readiness was at 94%, this places the progress at about 70%.
The slow progress in delivering, installing and refilling water infrastructure at schools, reaffirms the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) long held the view that Rand Water would not be capable of delivering on this mammoth task.
In a meeting of the portfolio committee on basic education earlier this week, the Basic Education Director-General, Mathanzima Mweli, indicated that the Department is currently in talks with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) to have municipalities take over the function of providing water services to schools. Suggesting that the DBE was not aware of the poor service delivery on the part of the Rand Water.
While the DA is pleased by the DBE’s approach as we believe this should have been the case from the start – we are angered by the fact that the tender for this project cost the taxpayer R600 million with very little to show.
The water tanker project has been an expensive mistake because from the onset the process has been marred by:
- Delays in the delivery of water tankers;
- Reports that the tankers collapsing when filled with water; and
- Instances of communities hijacking and burning water tankers out of frustrations.
At the end of the day, thousands of vulnerable children will be at the receiving end of the incompetence and lack of foresight demonstrated by both the Departments of Basic Education as well as Water and Sanitation. Did the DBE truly believe that a Department that has failed to deliver water infrastructure for the past two decades, would magically get it right during a time of crisis?
The DA will be conducting continuous oversights to schools across the country to investigate the real situation on the ground and to ensure that our children have access to sustained and hygienic water infrastructure beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. We will also submit additional parliamentary questions to ascertain precisely how the R600 million tender to provide water tanks in schools has been spent.
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