The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) says it is working “around-the-clock” to reduce the timeframe for the issuing of water-use licences.
The department aims to finalise water-use licence applications within 90 days, a reduction on the 300 days it previously took to grant the licences.
The new turn-around time is part of government’s strategies to enhance the delivery of economic reforms through Operation Vulindlela which is aimed at fast-tracking service delivery across various sectors of society.
In a statement released on July 25, the DWS said that between April 2021 and March 2022, it was able to finalise 613 out of 971 water-use licence applications, which represents a partial achievement of 63%.
From April to June 2022, the DWS has finalised 150 applications, more than the targeted 113, and for the second quarter period, which runs from July to September, 37 applications out of a targeted 252 are already finalised.
The department continues to work to eradicate water-use authorisation backlogs to meet the 90 days turn-around timeframe.
Concerted efforts which were put in place to clear backlogs by June 30 have been successful; however, the 100% target set has not been achieved, says DWS deputy director-general responsible for compliance, monitoring and evaluation Xolani Zwane.
“A total backlog of 812 water-use authorisations was finalised by June 30 out of a target of 998. We now have 138 of the backlog still to finalise and we plan to ensure that they are concluded by the end of this month.”
In a bid to fast-track the conclusion of the backlog, the department conducted a diagnostic study into factors causing delays in water-use authorisation and recommended interventions to improve efficiency.
Some interventions included improving efficiency centres around the establishment of water authorisation units at the department’s provincial offices and resourcing them with an adequate number of personnel possessing the requisite skills.
Other interventions include revising water use licence templates, which entails minimising amendments and improving implementation of conditions by applicants.
The DWS further implemented a process of minimising system downtime and addressing connectivity challenges associated with the online portal, which often results in interruptions of submission and processing of the water-use licence applications.
Zwane admitted that the process was still a work in progress and pleaded with applicants to be patient while the DWS does its best to finalise the applications and address the backlog.
“We have introduced a process wherein applicants are sent letters through the Electronic Water Use Licence Application and Authorisation System to provide them with updates on their application progress. These letters are sent at day 45 and day 80 of the 90 days process,” Zwane concluded.