• Water shortage to continue indefinitely
• NSCII needs P6 billion to complete
• WUC borrows from World Bank
As the nation waits in anticipation of news that the national water supplier, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), has sorted out the water challenges besieging the country and that all has gone back to normalcy, Chief Executive Officer Leonard Nxumalo has signaled that the wait may continue for a long time.
Nxumalo told the parliamentary committee on Statutory bodies and Private Enterprises that the WUC is currently near insolvency, so bad is the situation, that he says in the absence of financial assistance from other stakeholders the corporation would not be able to remedy the current water challenges faced by the nation.
According to Nxumalo WUC as it is needs a total of P68 Billion to sort out the water and waste water situation nationwide. He told the committee that they have so far identified projects which they have categorized into short, medium and long term and should be able to get underway with as soon as they get funding.
Nxumalo painted a gloomy picture about the corporation’s financial status which he says had been worsened by the water sector reforms which involved the Water Utilities Corporation taking over all potable water services in the country. According to Nxumalo during this exercise, WUC was left in to fend for itself which ended up plunging it into a financial crisis. “The corporation had about P8 million in reserves, which got depleted during the takeover,” Nxumalo said. During this time Nxumalo said government did not make any effort to assist the WUC financially an occurrence which he says worsened the situation. “It is demoralizing even to us when we get accused of failing to delivers when we know we are derailed by funds,” he said.
Meanwhile when asked to give a time frame in which they expect to remedy the situation especially in the capital city Gaborone Nxumalo said it will all depend on the success of the North South Water carrier two, which he said is one of the projects proposed by the corporation “As for now water rationing in the capital city is not going to stop, people will have to learn to live with it,” he said.
Nxumalo told the committee that currently the North South water carrier one cannot be able to meet the water demands of the greater Gaborone as it was never meant to but rather was meant to augment supply from Gaborone, Bokaa and Molatedi dam in South Africa. The now dry Gaborone dam he says was supplying about 80 percent of the water needed in the greater Gaborone. “The North-South water carrier has now been reduced to a primary source, and this is putting a lot of pressure on it,” he said.
Explaining why the North South Water Carrier was failing to meet demands in the South, WUC Infrastructure Director Gaselemogwe Senai, stated that the carrier is currently churning out 60 megalitres compared to the 110 megalitres needed for the Greater Gaborone region. Meanwhile the proposed North South Water carrier II according to Senai is expected to double the current demand, saying it will need about P6 billion to complete.
Also proposed to remedy the situation as a long term strategy according to the Water Utilities Corporation Chief Executive Officer is the Chobe-Zambezi Project which if all goes well should be commissioned in 2019. According to Nxumalo WUC is currently in discussions with the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources and Cabinet about the feasibility of transferring water from Chobe to the Southern part of this country. “If we continue to face drought and unsatisfactory rainfalls in the South, then the Chobe-Zambezi project should be able to rescue the situation but then again it all depends on funding,” Nxumalo said.
When touching on waste water, Nxumalo said though it remained a challenge, it would seem waste water management had not been given the attention it deserves in the past. He said the WUC had so far identified projects in different priority areas nationwide and should be able to implement them when they get funding.
Nxumalo told the parliamentary committee on statutory bodies and Private Enterprises that financial sustainability is now the WUC’s priority in their strategy to end in 2018. He said the WUC can emerge from the undesirable financial situation if it gets support from all stakeholders including government.
Meanwhile Nxumalo revealed that officials from the World Bank were in the country, to establish how they can assist in the execution of the project. He expressed confidence that the WUC will be able to get assistance from the bank. “Botswana is credit worthy,” he said.
He however did not run away from the fact that some of the corporation’s inefficiencies were from within and were a result of poor management and lack of supervision. “We are currently undergoing a major restructuring, which will hope will rectify some of this inefficiencies,” he said.
Water Utilities Corporation
DAM LEVELS AND WATER SUPPLY SITUATION FOR THE 23rd of JUNE 2015.
Gaborone Dam 1.7% [Failed]
Molatedi Dam 11.0% [20 Months of supply without inflow]
Bokaa Dam 7.4% [ 2 Months of supply without inflow]
Nnywane Dam 72.2% [10 Months of supply without inflow]
Letsibogo Dam 52.7% [14 Months of supply without inflow]
Shashe Dam 94.3% [22 Months of supply without inflow]
Ntimbale Dam 93.5% [15 Months of supply without inflow]
Dikgatlhong Dam 82.1%
Lotsane Dam 65.3% [22 Months of supply without inflow]
Thune Dam 42.3%
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