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The Administrator manages Oudtshoorn Waste Water Treatment Works situation well
Thursday, 05 November 2015 13:40

k chettyOudtshoorn, 05 November 2015. - Water and Sanitation is too important to politicize. The Administrator’s campaign of “Putting the People of Greater Oudtshoorn First” is critical to stabilize the municipality and create a foundation for good governance.

“The temptation to put “party politics” before the people of Oudtshoorn was a significant cause of the dysfunctionality of the municipality. The actions of the Administrator of stabilizing the administration, addressing the critical financial situation of the municipality, tacking corruption and mismanagement, resolving the challenges of the Cango Caves, and addressing the service delivery issues such as the waste water treatment – has been met some opposition by major political parties,” said Mr. Kam Chetty, the Administrator.

The Administrator and his team (made up of professionals) have been continually harassed by numerous groups in an effort to frustrate the administration process. However, the good people of Oudtshoorn have welcomed the initiatives started by the Administrator, and have expressed their fatigue with party political tensions.

“We have in the last few weeks – been busy in building a delicate partnership with community and business organisations to tackle the waste water problems collectively. The Oudtshoorn community has risen to the challenge. After being allowed to ‘silently’ deteriorate for a number of years, decisive and urgent action have been pursued by the administrator to address the waste water treatment plant. This includes the awareness programmes, refurbishment of a mothballed plant (with contractors that are on site since September), and monitoring of the water quality,” Chetty added.

“Previous statements that suggested that raw sewerage was being let into the river system were denied by the administrator and no proof of that was ever provided. The statement that nothing is being done is not true. Not so long ago, the same Administrator was called a DA agent by the ANC now the DA calls it an ANC administrator – we are at pains to understand this given the unique nature of this Administration which is supported by both the National and Provincial Ministers from different political parties.”

Focusing on the waste water treatment, the following has been implemented by the Administrator

The poor quality of water inflow into the system particularly the high levels of Fats Oils and Grease (FOG’s) is a major concern – this affects the efficiency of the operations. To address the problem with non-compliance by commerce and industry, the municipality has conducted awareness and education campaigns. This is a delicate partnership of cooperation and should not be compromised by insensitive statements. In addition, the Oudtshoorn Municipality has trained compliance officers to facilitate enforcement where the law is transgressed to curb the illegal discharge of FOG’s which seriously inhibits the bacteriological process at the Oudtshoorn WWTW. The Administrator has trained people to do awareness, education and compliance to by-laws.

On the Plant upgrade - the Oudtshoorn Municipality has two plants; the old decommissioned works biological filtration plant which can handle 3ML per day. A new plant, built in 1988 which is an activated sludge system that can handle 6ML per day. Since the Administrator’s appointment on 18 of August this year:

1. Maintenance work has started in September to restore the efficiency and capacity of the 6MG per day plant, during spot peak times, the gear box of one of the three screw pumps is being repaired and maintained. A contractor has already been appointed to commence with the repair. The third screw pump will be in operation in two weeks.

2. The biological filtration system decommissioned for 27 years; is being reconditioned for recommissioning in the end of March 2016. In September a R5.5 million project was started by the Administrator (a month later). Contractors have been appointed and are onsite busy with the refurbishment and is planned to be completed by the end of March/April next year. This initiative entails the replacement internal pipe works, blowers and stirring equipment inside the digesters. The inlet works that will enable a constant flow of 3ML inflow to the biological filtration system.

3. Furthermore, the disinfection system (Chlorination) is also being upgraded and relocated from the banks of the Olifants River to within the premises of the Oudtshoorn Waste Water Treatment Works.

Intergovernmental team is highly credible

In support, of all the maintenance, upgrade and repairs, the Administrator has brought in technical teams from the Municipality, the Western Cape Provincial Government, MISA and the Department of Water and Sanitation to assist with this process. This intergovernmental team is a highly credible team with excellent technical expertise and experience.

Thus the statement that the Administrator is not acting urgently is blatantly untrue and mischievous. The administrator always maintained that there are problems with the Waste Water Treatment Plant including the fecal coliforms levels. “We would like to emphasize that, although the effluent currently does not conform to all the parameters as stipulated in the Act it does not consists of any raw sewage as was alleged”.

Financial Recovery Plan

In addition the Administrator has started a process that of developing a financial recovery plan of a financially stressed municipality, cutting all discretionary expenditure, regularizing procurement and address past irregular practices, appointed with the support of national and provincial government a CFO, Technical Director, MISA Technical Expert, two Financial Advisors, and receives support on legal and HR matters from provincial and national governments. These new policies and processes are designed to stop political interference in the Administration. These actions have been vocally resisted – however this is in the interest of Oudtshoorn and good governance that is supported by the respective National and Provincial Ministers.

Let the people come first – and politics later

To politicize and attack the credibility of the Administrator and the recent actions to correct the practices of the past is highly irresponsible and not in the interest of “Putting the People of Oudtshoorn First”. The Administrator has appealed to all major organisations to – work with him in addressing the challenges. This is not an overnight miracle – but a long process that will require the commitment and resilience of the major stakeholders. Let the people come first – and politics later.