Minister Nzimande approves multi-million project to end erratic water supply on UFH Alice campus

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The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology (DHEST), Dr Blade Nzimande has injected R130-million into a water and sanitation project that will address the water challenges at the University of Fort Hare’s Alice campus. Not only will the project end the erratic water supply on the campus, but also to households in the surrounding communities in Alice.

On Friday, 6 March 2020, the Minister invited various stakeholders to a meeting in East London to lay down the plans and conditions for the project.

The work to be carried out under this project will include the following:

  • Upgrade of the Waste Water Treatment Plant;
  • Upgrade of the Reservoir and;
  • Reticulation/ Pipping system.

The meeting was attended by Mr Parks Tau, the Deputy Minister of the Department Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Dr Diane Parker the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Deputy Director-General, UFH Administrator Prof Loyiso Nongxa,  UFH Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sakhela Buhlungu and the MEC of Education in the province, Mr Fundile Gade. Also in attendance was the Amathole District Municipality (ADM) Mayor,  Mr Thandekile Mnyimba, Mr Bandile Ketelo the mayor of Raymond Mhlaba Municipality, and representatives from the Department of Human Settlements, Department of Water and Sanitation, the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. 

UFH Alice campus has been battling with the issue of erratic water supply for years. To address this on-going challenge, the DHET Infrastructure Support Team undertook an analysis of what was happening and what the key problems were. 

According to Dr Parker, the team established that the challenge was "major and required a significant amount of R130 million" to be addressed.  Based on the team's findings and recommendations, the Minister approved the required budget.

The Minister also saw this project as an opportunity to implement the new District Development Model introduced by the Presidency recently. The Model encourages all three spheres of government to work together to coordinate and integrate development plans, growth initiatives, skills development, youth employment, infrastructure, investments, water services and human settlements.

A Memorandum of Agreement between ADM and UFH in terms of implementing the three projects has already been drafted and is expected to be signed by next week. Thereafter a project steering committee will be set up. The committee will comprise of representatives from the DHEST, UFH, ADM, Raymond Mhlaba, Water and Sanitation and Cogta.

The plan is to have all three projects complete by October, before the completion of the R400 million Alice Student Village Student Housing Project on the Alice Campus.  The project has been welcomed by UFH vice-chancellor, Prof Buhlungu and the mayors of the receiving towns and the district. They viewed it as a huge step closer to realising Alice as a university town.