Durban – THE KwaZulu-Natal Education Department plans to drill more than 1000 boreholes in schools across the province to address the problem of water shortages.
It launched the borehole project at the Khulani Special School in the uMkhanyakude district yesterday.
The introduction of the borehole programme, it said, was part of the department’s infrastructure service delivery programme for this financial year that aims to ensure that schools, especially those in rural areas, are supplied with water.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has also spurred the department to move in this direction as the unreliability of municipalities’ water supplies remains a concern.
One district municipality failed to deliver water recently because its trucks had no diesel.
The programme was first initiated by the Department of Public Works a few years ago.
Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said the department had to invest in the drilling of boreholes as it had become clear that the issue of water supply to schools had become a challenge.
He said municipalities faced capacity issues, and in some cases when they delivered the water, it was taken by the community and in the morning there was nothing for pupils.
“Another issue is that the supply of water via municipalities is very expensive because we have to pay for water and the water tankers to deliver. In the month of June, we received a total bill of about R12million from all the municipalities in the province that supplied schools with water.
“We have decided to drill the boreholes because this will be a once-off payment and then it will just be the servicing of the boreholes, which will be cheaper than the paying of the municipalities,” said Mshengu. He said based on a study that had been conducted, they found that about 1000 schools had groundwater.
He added that research would be done to determine if other school properties had sufficient groundwater for boreholes.
DA Education spokesperson Imran Keeka said he hoped the announcement was not another ill-conceived publicity stunt.
He said the department was under financial strain and was struggling to eradicate pit latrines.
There were about 1300 schools with pit latrines.
“MEC Mshengu is developing a habit, as was demonstrated by the failed school safety programme, of hastily launching projects that appear to be a little more than publicity stunts. The borehole project should not be one of these,” Keeka said.
IFP education committee member Mntomuhle Khawula said they were supportive of the programme and hoped it would address the water issues in schools.
“We believe this (number of schools) is a drop in the ocean, and we hope this will not be one of the programmes that are abandoned half way through,” he said.