Dispute with contractor holds up RO plant project

AMATOLA Water has revealed more about the status of the Port Alfred reverse osmosis (RO) plant TotT reported on two weeks ago.

Municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa obtained the information from Amatola Water after TotT explained to him that the implementing agent of Ndlambe’s bulk water project had never answered any of our previous questions when we reported on delays and the skyrocketing bill for the project two years ago.

Amatola Water appointed two contractors for the RO plant project – one for civil works and one for mechanical and electrical (M&E) works.

“The civil contractor could not commence with the works, as they failed to provide valid performance guarantees and insurance. On the other hand, the contractor was claiming for extension of time, with time-related preliminaries and general (P&Gs), which AW never acceded to, as it was not fully justified,” Amatola Water said in its media statement.

“The contractor was then put on terms, by the consulting engineers. Without all steps being followed, the contractor opted to lodge a dispute with South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE) and referred the matter for adjudication. Amatola Water is defending the dispute.”

Amatola Water said the M&E contractor would not be able to commence on site before confirmation of availability of sufficient budget to service their contract, as they had experienced budget cuts that severely affected their programmes.

“As the gazetted 2018/19 financial year allocation for the entire Ndlambe project, which requires about R70m to be completed, it is difficult for Amatola Water to give such assurance, as we don’t have control of DWS [department of water and sanitation] allocations and re-allocations,” Amatola Water said.

The implementing agent said the current yield from Sarel Hayward Dam is between 4-5 megalitres (ML) per day. The four boreholes that were constructed under the ongoing project, were projected to provide more than 2ML/day of additional water that would have been blended with water from Sarel Hayward Dam, then be treated into the brackish water reverse osmosis (BWRO) plant, to improve the water quality.

“Due to the effects of drought, DWS have granted Ndlambe Municipality with a water use licence to abstract 0.864ML/day, for three boreholes that are not affected by the pending land agreement, with the owners. The fourth borehole, with land agreement yet to be concluded, is likely to provide extra 0.173ML/day. This means a total anticipated additional water will be limited to about 1ML/day,” Amatola Water said.

Ndlambe and Amatola Water are filing an application for emergency augmentations, to construct an additional pumping main from Sarel Hayward Dam, which could increase the combined supply from 5-8ML/day.

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