Ensuring Wellington's Water Supply: R2,8m Cheque to Drakenstein Municipality
"The first step in building a World Class Province which Cares for all its people is to ensure that the most basic needs of our communities are being met - especially in terms of essential local infrastructure. Good roads, clean water, and a proper supply of electricity - keys to both human dignity and real economic growth." These were the words of Western Cape Premier, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, speaking today to community leaders, farmers and farm workers in Wellington. The Premier was accompanied by the Provincial Ministers for Local Government and Agriculture, Ministers Cobus Dowry and Johan Gelderblom, and was addressing the problem of the long-term water supply in Wellington.
"I am very pleased therefore to be able today to hand over this cheque for R2,8 million to the Drakenstein Municipality for the development of infrastructure in Diemersfontein, which supplements the R20 631 000 which was already handed over for other infrastructure development in Drakenstein during the Provincial Imbizo Focus Week in July. With an additional R1,21 million from the local council, this money will fund the construction of a much-needed new water reservoir and water pipelines," said the Premier. "This is of particular importance if we are going to support the new residential developments and businesses in this area, because clearly the existing water supply and capacity is not sufficient. We expect the construction to be completed by the end of March next year."
According to the results of Census 2001, 19 321 of the 194 419 residents of the Drakenstein Municipality are unemployed - or almost 23% of those who could be employed. Addressing the issue of jobs, Minister Cobus Dowry added: "The construction and especially the laying of the new water pipes will make an important contribution to the local economy - with local workers who will be employed as part of the goals of our Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Programme (CMIP). CMIP is not only about building roads, community facilities, street lighting and water - it is also about building the pride in our local communities."
The CMIP Programme is coordinated by the Provincial Department of Local Government - and is designed to support local councils in the creation of new infrastructure as well as the upgrading of existing facilities - especially in the communities most in need. "As a result of the excellent cooperation between municipalities and our provincial team, we were able last year to allocate the full R143 million budgeted for improving local infrastructure," said the Premier, "For this financial year, the allocation for CMIP projects has grown by 37% to R183,7 million."
The Premier and Minister Gelderblom also made use of the opportunity to address issues of concern to farm workers and the farming community - particularly evictions, labour relations, health, farm security and human rights. "We know that for many of our farming communities there is a sincere concern about security issues - with theft and farm violence still a very real problem," said the Premier, "That is why in Wellington alone we have increased the number of police from 68 last year to 96 this year, and supplied another 5 vehicles for their use. This is part of our wider plan to increase police numbers in the Western Cape by 50% from 12000 to 18000 before the end of next year."
Turning to the issue of rural relations in farming communities, the Premier added: "We have great appreciation for the steps taken by many of our commercial farmers across the province to improve the living standards in our farming communities - with farm schools, health facilities, better housing and many other initiatives. There remain though a number of problem areas." Addressing these issues, Minster Gelderblom said: "There have been a number of alarming reports over the past few weeks about farm workers and their families who still do not have access to the most basic facilities like fresh drinking water on farms - this is naturally unacceptable. It creates the wrong impression about our rural relations which are healthy in the vast majority of farming communities. Our Provincial Government calls on farmers and farm workers alike to report problems like these to our Department of Agriculture so that we can investigate and address these issues as a matter of priority."
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