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FF Plus welcomes HRC report on Vaal River sewage pollution

The FF Plus welcomes the report issued by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in which the serious sewage pollution of the Vaal River is declared an infringement on human rights, but the party wants to see that much stricter action is taken against officials who have over the years played a part in bringing about this violation.

In addition, the party seriously doubts whether the government will be able to earmark R1 billion to repair the Emfuleni Local Municipality's sewage plants any time soon.

The HRC has declared the pollution an infringement on human rights and holds the Emfuleni Municipality, the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) as well as the Department of Water and Sanitation accountable for the total collapse of Emfuleni's water purification system.

The Municipality and respective departments have 60 days to respond to the report.

The HRC report also provides a detailed description of the FF Plus's input, which was provided during the Commission's visit to Emfuleni.

The party meticulously explained the Municipality's incompetence and failure to replace outdated infrastructure and ensure that regular maintenance is done to an HRC panel. The party attributed these shortcomings to the instability and mismanagement of the Municipality. In the meantime, Emfuleni was placed under partial administration.

The FF Plus repeatedly expressed that the Municipality is doing the nearly 19 million residents, who are dependent on the Vaal Water system for all their water needs, a great injustice.

The party concurs with the HRC that to take preventative action, the Vaal River and all relevant infrastructure, must be declared critical infrastructure in terms of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act. In this way, needless repetition will be avoided and the area will be protected.

The HRC's recommendation that disciplinary steps must be taken against the Emfuleni municipal officials who failed to do their duties or that they must be dismissed is also in line with the proposals that the party made numerous times to the Municipality and COGTA.

The sewage crisis, which has plagued Emfuleni for two years now, has seriously affected many people's lives as sewage flows through properties and streets, the water has become undrinkable and so forth. The tourism industry is also struggling due to dwindling numbers of visitors – guests do not want to stay or relax next to a smelly river.

The FF Plus will carefully examine the report and eagerly awaits the Municipality and departments' response.

Contact details: 076 616 2124

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