The Covid-19 pandemic is highlighting South Africa’s lacking water infrastructure and the dangers it poses to the country’s most vulnerable citizens, the Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (Sappma) has said.
While frequent hand washing with soap and clean water is one of the first lines of defence against contracting the coronavirus, many informal settlements and communities around the country do not have access to clean water for drinking, hand washing or cooking.
“The country desperately needs a reliable network of water and sewage pipes capable of serving the whole population,” said Sappma CEO Jan Venter.
The outbreak of the highly contagious coronavirus in South Africa highlights the fact that this process cannot be delayed any longer, he warned.
The plastic pipe industry standards body “was relieved” last year when Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu tabled the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan.
However, while the plan committed to dealing with the issues of insufficient water infrastructure, maintenance and investment, water and sanitation, deteriorating water quality and a lack of water engineers as a matter of urgency, not much progress had been made in this regard.
Sappma is urging government to engage with them and the plastic pipe manufacturers they represent in order to develop a plan of action that will only see pipes installed that meet international health and manufacturing standards.
“As an industry, we are offering our expertise and our assistance to help find workable solutions aimed at supplying and installing water pipes as quickly as possible in order to protect local communities against diseases, droughts and water shortages as a result of the loss of potable water,” Venter said.
“It is no longer an exaggeration, but the harsh truth, when we say that our country’s future and thousands of lives depend on it,” Venter said.
Sappma said that, each year, about 150 000 t of polyvinyl chloride and high-density polyethylene pipe are produced in South Africa, used for forming integral, long-term and extremely important infrastructure networks for water, gas, electricity and telecommunications supply.