Sat, 29 Feb 2020

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will withdraw its personnel and equipment deployed to the Vaal River Project by the end of the week.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Defence Department's head of communications Siphiwe Dlamini said: "Regiments under the stewardship of the SA Army Engineer Formation Headquarters commanded by Colonel Andries Mahapa contributed members and equipment to attain the Vaal River Project objectives, as set out by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans in the beginning of the project."

READ | SANDF intervention in the Vaal comes to an end, but water department has a plan

The project got under way on October 31, 2018.

It was meant to be completed on October 31, 2019, but was later extended to January 31, 2020. Dlamini said over 500 members of the SANDF's regular and reserve units took part in this project on a rotational basis.

"During the term of deployment, the SANDF managed to unblock a sewage system that was clogged up resulting in spillage, and to date a total of seven pump stations are now operational with another 24 pump stations functioning, but still requiring some attention," Dlamini said.

"Informed specialists in the field of engineering have commended the SANDF for its demonstrable progress in this deployment which served as a launching pad for authorities to appoint a government entity specialising in wastewater treatment to take over and build on a sterling job which has resulted in the increase of wastewater flow to reach a treatment plant," he added.

Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu visited the site on Tuesday last week.

"Erwat [Ekurhuleni Water Care Company], an entity of government specialising in wastewater treatment, was appointed to take over and build on the progress that began with the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) between December 2018 and the end of November 2019. Erwat Managing Director Mr Tumelo Gopane said 10 contractors were appointed and 117 local people from Emfuleni were employed," her spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said in a statement.

He said that there would be a follow-up meeting with Erwat in June to mark the progress made.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has extended her gratitude to SANDF members who were deployed and attained the objectives of this project.

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