Municipality says it is “losing R156 million in production losses” due to leaking pipes
SOL PLAATJE Municipality has approved a R4.8 million deviation to seal water leaks in the city, where an estimated 35 megalitres of water is reportedly being wasted per day, at a cost of over R156 million in production losses alone.
The acting director of technical services, Phetole Sithole, said on Thursday that the deviation was necessary to restore the city’s water supply on a 24-hour basis.
“The acting water city engineer at Sol Plaatje Municipality, Hennie Harding, made his calculations based on the amount of water we are losing. The motivation to approve the deviation was in response to the outcry from residents,” said Sithole.
He indicated that a local contractor was appointed and had assessed the leaks utilising a drone.
“A quotation was obtained after major leaks were identified by the acting city engineer. The amount was not willy-nilly thumb sucked,” said Sithole.
He also gave the assurance that the money would be used for its intended purpose.
“Anyone is welcome to open up a criminal case if they have evidence that funds were interfered with.
”I put my head on the block that the money will go towards repairing the pipes … because my family and I are also affected.”
Sithole estimated that an improvement in the city’s water situation would be visible in the next three to six months.
“We want to address the matter as quickly as possible.”
He explained that if the bid went out on tender it would delay the process.
“We would have to wait for a tender number, while processes would need to be followed to sign and prepare a document plan. The tender project would need to be certified by supply chain management before it is submitted to the specification committee. The tender would be advertised for 21 days after which bidders are given 120 days to submit tenders. In addition, the tender will undergo evaluation and adjudication.”
He pointed out that the further delays would prolong the length of the water shutdowns.
“Nightly shutdowns were enforced to raise the water levels at the reservoir. At the same time, water is leaking from the pipes, where we are losing R156 million in production losses. If you quantify the losses, why would the municipality not spend R4.8 million to repair the major leaks?”
Sithole said that the city’s water infrastructure and network is ageing and is prone to pipe bursts.
“The intention is to focus on the big leaks. As much it will not be a permanent solution, it will not help to fold our arms. Our communities are frustrated and we need to do something. In the long term, we will need funding to replace the pipes.”
He added that there was no scheduled maintenance on infrastructure.
“In the absence of a maintenance plan, I will give councillors a programme on Friday to clean the clarifiers.
“A seven-day roster must be put in place immediately to ensure that all repairs and leaks are timeously dealt with. We cannot allow six months to a year to pass before a defect is attended to. Workers should fill in a job card so that progress can be tracked.”
Sithole said he was in the process of headhunting engineers and technicians to boost capacity at the municipality.
“We need skilled staff who will be able to perform the work without having to rely on external service providers.”
A council meeting was held on Monday in response to a long list of service delivery complaints, including water issues, that were cited during a community meeting at the Galeshewe circle last week.
Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo is expected to provide a response to the community on Sunday.
The mayor was scheduled to unveil a service delivery implementation roll-out plan on Monday.
A spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor, Persome Oliphant, said that due to “other pressing matters” the service delivery roll-out plan could not be concluded during the council meeting.
“However, the programme is already in operation, led by the three teams headed by the respective mayoral committee chairpersons. The pothole patching programme is ongoing, the cleaning programme is also ongoing and there is continuous addressing of sewage spillages and water leaks,” said Oliphant.
“The municipality will also outline a special project aimed at dealing with service delivery.”