The government is to make good on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise that applications for water-use licences will be processed in 90 days. The undertaking was made during the president’s state of the nation address in February.

“Water-use licences, which are so essential to operations on farms, factories and mines, have previously taken an inordinately long time to process, sometimes up to five years. We are able to announce that water-use licences will now be issued within 90 days,” Ramaphosa said.

In terms of 2017 water-use licensing regulations, the time stipulated for water-use authorisations from date of application to decision was 300 days. Since then the department of human settlements, water & sanitation has managed to meet the 300- day target in 80% of cases.

The deputy director-general for infrastructure, Leonardo Manus, told members of parliament’s human settlements, water & sanitation committee on Tuesday that the department has worked out a plan for a 90-day process and has differentiated between the time frames for the different water-use sectors so that the target for agriculture and forestry will be 70 days and the other sectors, including mining and local government, 90 days.

Departmental spokesperson Sputnik Rantau said the system is expected to take effect from April 1. He noted that the reason for the long delay in completing the water-use licence applications was often because the department had not been given all the required information. This resulted in a lot of further discussion with the applicant.

Shortly after the state of the nation address the Minerals Council SA said in a statement that it would “be a great relief” to see water-use licences being issued within 90 days of application. On Tuesday it added that it believes “unnecessary red tape has historically delayed unduly the processing of water-use licence applications for mining operations”.


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