Construction Law

Unfinished Water and Sanitation infrastructure projects

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Lepelle Northern Water Board met to discuss its unfinished water and sanitation infrastructure projects in the Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Free State and Northern Cape provinces. The aim was to show and bring to the table the reasons for the delays in the completion of the projects, the proposed or implemented interventions, and the projected completion dates.

The unfinished projects were divided into four categories: augmentation projects; strategic asset management; sanitation – specifically the bucket eradication programme (BEP); and regional bulk infrastructure projects.

The augmentation projects looked at the status of the Mdloti River Development Project: Raising of Hazelmere dam in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), the raising of Tzaneen dam in Limpopo and the Olifants River Water Resources Development Project. The delay causes ranged from contractual and claim disputes, loss of public confidence, illegal mining, water shortages and the transfer of a project from Lepelle North Water to the DWS. The interventions for these projects were based on strategic management and construction. The project completion dates were between March 2020 and 2021.

Under strategic asset management, the DWS had focused on three projects — the Marico Bosveld Dam in Groot Marico, North West; the Kalkfontein Dam located in Koffiefontein in the Free State; and the Rietspruit dam in Ventersdorp, North West. Delays were caused by contractual disputes between the DWS and an external contractor, as well as community strikes and the procurement of an environmental control officer. The internal contractor would commence with site establishment in April 2019, and the contractor would follow an accelerated programme to complete the project during 2019.

The presentation gave an overview of the BEP projects at certain municipalities in different provinces. Most of these projects aimed at resolving sewer collection and the building and maintenance of bulk mains and pump stations.

Bulk infrastructure projects involved costs varying from small (up to R250 million over the project life cycle), large (R250 million to R1 billion), to mega (at least R1 billion). There were 15 mega projects, 53 large projects, and 38 small projects. The causes of delays varied from community unrest, to funding shortfalls, contractual disputes, non-payment, delays in payment and energy supply problems. The expected completion of the projects was between 2020 and 2021.

The briefing on the unfinished Giyani project was done by Lepelle Northern Water. The project milestones included completing the remaining 16 boreholes with package plants by 30 April 2019, and repairing 63 vandalised boreholes with major defects by 31 June 2019.

Members raised numerous questions, comments and concerns involving the non-payment of contractors, proper project planning, the escalation of prices, site monitoring and supervision, and intervention to ensure safety at open trenches. The Chairperson commented that the delays spoke to time and costs (monetary, socially and politically) and that there was something that was not being done properly — either due to a lack of planning, consultation or funding. Some Members felt that the reasons furnished for the delays were not acceptable, as many could have been avoided or dealt with during project planning. They also expressed disappointment and concern that many of the Department’s crucial positions were either vacant, or there was an acting employee. There was a need to tighten up the administration.

Source: Parliamentary Monitoring Group

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