Will Bloem cease to bloom?

Staff Writer | Jul 18, 2019
The Free State metro of Mangaung sought a restraining order to prevent the regional water board from restricting the city’s water supply over unpaid debts.

Bloem Water announced on Monday that it would be implementing water restrictions in all areas in Mangaung, which includes the Free State capital of Bloemfontein, because of the metro’s failure to settle its massive outstanding debt.

The water board said this decision was a last resort after Mangaung failed to adhere to any of the resolutions taken during previous negotiations.

Bloem Water spokesperson Kido Thoabala said ‘this situation has put Bloem Water in an untenable position, which left it with no option but to reduce the bulk water supply in accordance with Section 4(5) of the Water Services Act 108 of 1997.

‘The ongoing non-payment by Mangaung metro municipality to Bloem Water has a huge negative operational expenditure impact on raw water purchases, procurement of chemicals, payment to Eskom for electricity, employees’ benefits, operational projects, etc, which are integral to the very business of the Water Board.’

Thoabala said Bloem Water had agreed during a mediation process by National Treasury that the metro would pay off its outstanding debt over 12 months from May 2019, and Bloem Water would write off the interest on the debt – but that Mangaung had not paid anything.

Mangaung spokesperson Qondile Khedama said it paid R29.2 million in July, adding that this proved Mangaung had adhered to the payment agreement. Khedama said nothing about whether payments were made in May and June.

Pending the outcome of the court case, residents in Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu, Wepener, Van Stadensrus and Dewetsdorp are expected to receive a reduced water supply.

Given the state of collapse of municipalities around the country, this sort of spat is likely to become increasingly common, in respect of outstanding sums owed for electricity as well as water.


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