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Mabuza ‘disappointed’ with slow progress made to clean up Vaal River

This was part of the Vaal River Rehabilitation Project, which kicked off last year after the river was polluted by raw sewage from pump stations in the Emfuleni Municipality.

Deputy President David Mabuza in Sebokeng in the Vaal on Thursday, 12 September 2019. Picture: Bonga Dlulane/EWN

SEBOKENG - Deputy President David Mabuza said he was disappointed with the slow pace of the cleanup project at the Sebokeng Wastewater Treatment facility.

This was part of the Vaal River Rehabilitation Project, which kicked off last year after the river was polluted by raw sewage from pump stations in the Emfuleni Municipality.

Mabuza visited the area on Thursday.

The Sebokeng Wastewater Treatment plant is surrounded by soldiers and military police.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was brought in earlier this year to help clean the facility.

Raw sewage has been flowing into the river from pump stations in the Emfuleni Municipality affecting areas including Sebokeng, Vereeniging and Sharpeville.

But the SANDF’s work stalled after the R350 million set aside for the project ran out.

Mabuza was not impressed by this: “The spillage is not yet dealt with. It’s still spilling into the Vaal [River], we need to move a bit faster. That is why I was not happy with our pace and the complaint is that we don’t have money.”

The deputy president said he would approach the Treasury for more funds.

'WE HAD A DEAL WITH GOVERNMENT'

Stepping out of his motorcade Mabuza was greeted by a group of angry community members outside the gates of the Sebokeng Wastewater Treatment facility.

One of the residents, who only gave Thato as his name, said they had an agreement with former Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti that they would benefit from the project to restore the leaking sewage system.

“Two-hundred-and-fifty people were supposed to be trained by water and sanitation.”

Community leader Zolabhabile Mjoleni said government was testing their patience.

“When things are not adhered to, we are just going to stop everything.”

Mabuza promised to consult with the relevant departments and to return within two weeks with an answer.

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