Six large water tankers bearing the state emblem and described by water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane as “state property” are, in fact, rented.
The six white trucks, fitted with large tanks, were brought in to save money for North West’s ailing Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality – which has been spending what Mokonyane said was “not less than R40 million a year” on water-tanker tenders.
The “new” trucks are also a large part of the national intervention currently under way, aimed at addressing the escalating water-shortage crisis countrywide.
Mokonyane handed over the trucks to Premier Supra Mahumapelo in December, saying government had spent more than R1 million on each vehicle.
“These trucks are much cheaper compared with what government is spending on tenders for water tankering. Since these are state-owned assets, the provincial government will use them on the basis of its water-provision plan...” said Mokonyane in government-issued media statements.
“These tankers belong to the state. They cost at least R1.3 million each, fully fitted with all the requirements.”
However, some digging by City Press has revealed that none of the six trucks is state-owned. They are, according to vehicle registration records, owned by companies in KwaZulu-Natal.
Water and sanitation department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau confirmed last week the trucks were “rented”.
“The acquisition of these trucks must be seen as part of the short-term resolution to assist the affected municipalities to deal with the impact of the current drought situation.
“The [department] has rented these tankers, which will be in use by the municipalities while the department will work towards the long-term acquisition of such tankers.
“Such acquisition [is] meant to assist with the reduction of the overall costs of water tankering to municipalities,” he said.
Two weeks ago, City Press sent questions to the department of water and sanitation, asking which company was awarded the contract for the water tankers. The department did not reveal that information.
Ngaka Modiri Molema municipality is infamous for spending millions on water tankering while moving at a snail’s pace on long-term infrastructure projects.
“The department entered into an agreement for the provision of emergency services independently with the preferred service provider,” said Ratau.