The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is worried about the War on Leaks (WoL) programme, since not all Phase 1 trainees have been placed within the projected timelines.
Currently 7%, or 106 trainees, still need to be placed.
The DWS stated that this is owing to competing similar programmes within government and a lack of qualified mentors within some of the targeted municipalities.
“This situation has impacted on the capacity of municipalities to absorb the trainees for workplace training,” the department said.
Additionally, some of the contracts of the trainees are being considered for extension.
The WoL programmes started in 2015 as a means of addressing water losses countrywide. The matter came to a head after the Water Research Commission mandated Stellenbosch University to undertake research into water losses in the country.
The study by the university showed that South Africa loses up to 37% of potable water owing to failing and ageing infrastructure, as well as illegal connections.
This led to the DWS looking into recruiting out-of-school youths to take up training as water agents, artisans and plumbers.
So far, Phase 1 trainees, who were enrolled in the programme in 2015, have completed training in new venture creation; water conservation and demand management; water agent skills; and institutional training.
The DWS indicated that this project started as an intervention in the water losses programme and as such it did not have a particular budget – as it started after the budget had already been allocated. The DWS therefore had to source funding to ensure the programme went ahead.
However, Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti had made the WoL fall within the realm of the Infrastructure Build, Operate and Maintenance branch, formerly the National Water Resources Infrastructure branch, which allows for funding to be availed as part of the branch’s responsibility to maintain infrastructure for the benefit of the country.
The funding for the payment of the colleges has been made available, ensuring that Phase 1 trainees register for the trade tests and complete their training.
“We are optimistic that a significant number of trainees from the first intake will be able to complete their training in time, which should bring comfort to the trainees, as well as those municipalities that would need to use the skills developed through the programme,” the department concluded.