15 September 2023 - NW2707
Smalle, Mr JF to ask the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
(1)Whether her department undertook any assessment of the cost incurred by local municipalities for (a) electrical and (b) water infrastructure damage as a direct impact of load shedding; if not; what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details; 2) what (a) has she found to be the reasons for the failure of municipalities to protect their assets as required by applicable legislation and (b) assistance has her department given to local municipalities in this regard?
1. No, the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCOG) did not undertake any assessment of the cost incurred by local municipalities for electrical and water infrastructure damage as a direct impact of loadshedding. However, the South African Association of Local Government (SALGA) undertook an assessment of all municipalities in March 2023 to quantify municipal expenditure and revenue losses as a result of loadshedding. SALGA presented the preparatory work and survey instrument for this assessment to the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) MINMEC meeting of 3 March 2023. According to SALGA, all 257 municipalities in the country were contacted to participate in this assessment. However, only 89 municipalities across the country responded with 75 of them being Water Service Authorities (WSAs) and 79 being licensed municipal distributors. The assessment, or study by SALGA, made several findings including the following:
- The frequency and intensity of cable theft and vandalism of infrastructure during loadshedding is so high that 12% of the surveyed municipalities recorded over 100 incidents per day per loadshedding period.
- The overall cost for fixing damaged and stolen municipal infrastructure and equipment during loadshedding amounts to R1.6 billion (R1 602 300 000) over the 89 municipalities for 2022/23 financial year.
- The cost to fix damaged Waste-Water Treatment Works (WWTW), Water Treatment Works (WTW), and to procure back-up generators and diesel across the 89 municipalities was R1 406 445 056.
- The total loss of revenue due to unserved energy from municipalities was in excess of R21 billion per annum for all municipal licensed distributors.
- Municipalities were incurring R1 107 583 200 per annum on staff overtime and contractors due to repairing electrical infrastructure in addition to the normal cost budgeted for the overtime and service providers.
2. (a) There are several reasons for the failure of municipalities to protect their assets as required by the applicable legislation in this regard which include the following:
- Governance, institutional and financial challenges as they all contribute to service delivery challenges.
- During loadshedding theft and vandalism of infrastructure increases as the loadshedding times are known to everyone including the would-be vandals and thieves.
- Lack of sufficient technical capacity to develop and implement operations and maintenance plans that include protection of these assets.
- Insufficient budget to implement the required measures as well as to ensure additional security during loadshedding periods.
- As a result of loadshedding middle- and high-income households, commercial and industrial customers are leaving the municipal grid and installing embedded generators, own generation resulting in municipalities losing revenues.
(b) DCOG has assisted municipalities in this regard in several ways including the following:
- DCOG led the development of Municipal Support Intervention Plans aimed address governance, institutional, financial and service delivery challenges following the development of the State of Local Government (SoLG) Report in 2021 that identified dysfunctional municipalities.
- DCOG, through the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) has deployed built environment professionals to provide technical support to municipalities for infrastructure development throughout the project life cycle including protecting these assets during load shedding. To-date MISA has deployed 103 built environment professionals countrywide (86 of which are professionally registered with Statutory bodies as engineers and town planners).
- MISA technical support personnel are further supporting municipalities to implement the Energy Efficiency Demand Side Management (EEDSM) measures through funding administered by the Department of Minerals and Energy (DMRE).
- DCOG introduced reforms to the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) that include up to 5% of the allocation being allowed to fund activities related to the development of an Infrastructure Asset Management Plan.
- Through the MIG grant municipalities can implement solar high mast lights which improve security during load shedding with the support of MISA technical support personnel.