Richards Bay industry leaders, led by ZCCI President Judith Nzimande, with KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu (centre) at Thursday's crisis meeting in Durban
"Without drought intervention, corporates will close doors and the city will sink"
Failure by the provincial government to take drastic action in help the Zululand region overcome the worst drought in a century will lead to an industrial disaster with dire consequences.
Corporates in Richards Bay will close doors if no water is available, resulting in massive job losses and eventual socio-economic collapse.
This was the emphatic message of Zululand Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZCCI) President Judith Nzimande to KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu in Durban on Thursday during an urgent meeting to seek a solution to the threatening crisis.
‘Provincial government simply cannot afford to leave northern KZN’s industrial hub to sink. This will affect the community at large and have serious implication for the Zululand economy,’ said Nzimande.
This meeting follows last month’s Disaster Management Forum meeting at which a business delegation and representatives of the Drought Crisis Committee presented the extent of the drought and the fact that Goedertrouw Dam will be empty by September if urgent interventions are not taken.
Nzimande contacted various role players, bringing the matter to the attention of national Government, officials of the KZN Department of Water and Sanitation and the provincial leadership.
In response, Premier Mchunu called for a meeting to be briefed on the proposed pipeline changes to double the water augmentation from the Tugela River to Goedertrouw Dam.
The Zululand delegation consisted of Nzimande, ZCCI representatives and the CEOs of RBM, Mondi, Mhlathuze Water, RBIDZ, South32 and the uMhlathuze Municipality.
Also present were representatives of the Department of Water and Sanitation Services, officials from the Premier’s office, the Department of Economic Affairs, as well as representatives of Standard Bank, Ithala and the KZN Growth Coalition.
The discussions centred on immediate action, possible funding options and long-term alternatives.
The pipeline which can provide immediate relief will cost an estimated R270-million, while the long-term solution, an off-channel dam on the Umfolozi River, will cost approximately R1,6-billion.
Mchunu expressed his support and emphasized the urgency of getting all the building blocks into place to facilitate the project.
‘President Jacob Zuma has convened a special Imbizo this weekend in Melmoth to discuss government’s intervention.
‘We appreciate the intervention of national government and the fact that national ministers, including the Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane, will be part of this Imbizo.
‘This is a demonstration of strong leadership and decisiveness,’ said Mchunu.
Nzimande thanked the Premier for his prompt response and his willingness to intervene.
‘There is a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we have to ensure that extra water is pumped into Goedertrouw, not only for the benefit of industry, but also for every resident in the area,’ Nzimande said after the meeting.