Critical water project gains nod to start

 

By Luzamo Sandlana

It’s all systems go for Phase 2 of the Mokolo Crocodile Water Augmentation Project (MCWAP-2) following the finalisation of the environmental authorisation process. The multibillion project had hit a snag after some stakeholders appealed an earlier official nod for construction to commence.

MCWAP-2 is one of the biggest projects in the TCTA portfolio and promises considerable economic spin-off for the country. At April 2018, the project had an estimated cost of R12,3 billion and benefits including job creation and socio-economic development.

Its greatest import, arguably, lies in the part it will play in assisting the country to overcome the electricity shortage crisis behind the routine occurrences of load shedding across the country. MCWAP-2 will create a second water source for Eskom to run its two power stations, Medupi and Matimba, which constitute 20% of the country’s energy capacity.

The project will enable Eskom to commission the Medupi and Matimba flue gas desulphurisation units to meet the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry clean emission conditions. Further, it will provide Lephalale with drinking water amid shortages expected as the town continues with s fast-paced growth.MCWAP-2 will enable the further unlocking of the coal resources in the area for power generation in the Waterberg district of Limpopo by Independent Power Producers. South Africa’s future energy security is dependent on these developments.

Before the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries reached her decision to set aside the appeals and the project was at a standstill, various engagements took place. It was after several of these sessions that TCTA advised the Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu to engage her counterpart to indicate that the delay in deciding prejudiced the project.

TCTA indicated to Minister Sisulu that further delays to the project would have major implications for the end water users, the power supply of the country and severe financial repercussions. TCTA also approached the Strategic Infrastructure Project Secretariat to raise the concern with the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Committee.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs initially granted environmental authorisation for MCWAP-2 in 2019, but the project could not proceed because of the various appeals that stakeholders lodged. However, on 11 October of this year, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries released her response to the appeals and rejected their grounds, clearing obstacles to commencement.