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Premier Helen Zille says the raising of the Clanwilliam dam wall must be a priority for the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and should be completed without any further delays.

Speaking during the relaunch of the Clanwilliam dam wall project, Premier Zille said: “I welcome the relaunch of this project today and commend Minister Nkwinti for ensuring that this project is revived again. I do however caution against complacency, as there has been gross mismanagement of this project and it is 5 months overdue.”

In 2007 at the conclusion of a feasibility investigation, it was determined that the dam wall could be raised by 13 metres. The original completion date of 21 May 2018, was first set down by the Water and Sanitation Department’s Construction unit as far back as June 2013.

DWS staff, contract personnel and various equipment have been located in Clanwilliam since 2014, waiting for the project to start. This has cost the taxpayer an estimated R100 million to date. The Department of Water and Sanitation then announced that it has run out of money to complete the dam wall raising, despite R2 billion being allocated to the project by National Treasury as far back as 2013/14.

Premier Zille said: “The social- agricultural- and economic impact due to the province’s drought and the fact that the dam could not retain additional water, was quite severe. If the dam wall had been raised previously as planned it is highly likely that much more water would have been available and the effects neutralised or at least minimized.”

Due to the extremely low levels of the Clanwilliam Dam, the Cederberg and Matzikama Municipalities, between September 2017 and March 2018, were supported with funding to the tune of over R34 million from the Western Cape Government (WCG) and the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC). This was to drill and equip boreholes and for the Lambert’s Bay desalination plant to be completed, in order to ensure water security for the Town.

In some areas the impact has been so severe that farmers have totally abandoned their farms, with isolated cases of suicides reported. Due to lower than expected income, certain farms have already been repossessed. This, along with the shutdown of TygerFoods, due to not having any crops to process, led to 20 000 estimated job losses.

“My sincere hope is that the project will now speedily be concluded, so that this dam has more storing capacity and so that the surrounding communities are able to enjoy the benefits. In this part of the world, more water means more farming, and more jobs,” said Premier Zille.

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