No Money for Clanwilliam Dam Wall Raising – DWS Tells Western Cape
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has run out of money to proceed with the Clanwilliam Dam wall raising, despite R2 billion being allocated to the project in the national budget as far back as 2013/14.
The project was due to double the capacity of the dam to 340 million cubic metres. This vastly increased storage capacity was expected to increase water security in the Cederberg and Matzikama areas, and enable the irrigation of thousands of additional hectares of agricultural land.
Raising the dam wall would also address growing safety concerns due to structural problems in the aging dam wall infrastructure.
Writing in her Daily Maverick column today, Premier Helen Zille said Minister Mokonyane had informed the Province during a recent meeting that her Department did not have the money to proceed with the dam wall raising.
“It was all systems go, with the completion date scheduled for mid-2018. There was a lot of excitement in the area when the department’s internal construction unit – Construction South – commenced site establishment in Clanwilliam in June 2014,” said Premier Zille.
Premier Zille said that the project had stalled since then, with the Water and Sanitation Department deciding to go out on tender for the construction, despite the DWS internal unit already being on-site in Clanwilliam.
“The department decided to go out on tender instead of using its in-house construction capacity. Speculation was rife, at the height of the Zupta vice-grip on power, that a politically connected consortium had the project in its sights.”
The tender was never awarded, and lapsed at the end of December 2017 due to DWS not having enough funds to appoint a successful bidder.
Premier Zille added that an estimated R100 million had been wasted so far, as DWS staff had been on-site in Clanwilliam since 2014.
“For almost four years, 53 departmental staff members have been twiddling their thumbs in Clanwilliam, waiting for construction to start. The cost for their stay – for the month of February 2017 alone – according to a reply to a parliamentary question, was R2.5-million. This means that over four years, more than R100-million was being wasted, while the regional economy declined due to a shortage of water.”
The drought has placed an estimated 20% of local farmers under threat of going out of business in the Clanwilliam and Vredendal areas. The Tiger Brands factory in the area has also closed, as farmers do not have money for cash crops like tomatoes and there is nothing to process.
“Much of this economic damage could have been averted if the dam wall raising project that was promised had materialised. The scandal of the Clanwilliam dam wall project is unfortunately not an isolated case. Indeed, for every high-risk municipality in the Western Cape, there is a failed, delayed or abandoned DWS water supply project,” said Premier Zille.
National disaster not yet declared
The Premier said it was likely that both Minister Mokonyane, and Cooperative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen, would not survive an imminent Cabinet Reshuffle by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Premier also noted that the drought had not yet been formally declared as a national disaster. A classification has so far taken place under the Disaster Act – which means that the grounds exist for a national disaster – but this needed to be formally declared by Minister van Rooyen.
“This request is, I understand, on the minister’s desk, but at the time of writing he had not yet finalised the declaration. He is reportedly reluctant to do so because the department does not have resources to deal with the consequences. The fiscus has run out of money,” Premier Zille said.
Premier Zille is due to deliver her State of the Province Address on Thursday this week, which will cover the water crisis and its impact on the Western Cape.