Port Alfred residents who have been without water for months will have to wait even longer –the emergency two megalitre (ML) seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plant is now anticipated to only become operational in June.
Although Ndlambe Municipality informed residents the SWRO plant being constructed by Quality Filtration Systems (QFS) would be ready in April – after earlier delays – QFS announced in a post on its Facebook page on Tuesday that the plant “is expected to be online in early June”.
“With all process equipment on-site, QFS is currently working towards getting raw water and electricity to site,” the brief post said. It was accompanied by photos of trench work to lay pipes and cables.
The post attracted outrage and indignation from readers both on the QFS page and on Talk of the Town’s Facebook group.
Resident Lynne du Plessis wrote: “How dare they make a throwaway comment like this. We need to demand they provide explanations why it will be 6 months late and no penalties paid! HOW DARE THEY! We need to also demand an explanation from the DA who profess to be looking after our interests and will look for our vote when the time comes.”
Martin Neethling asked QFS if they were paying penalties on the late commission date. They have not responded.
TotT established in March that no penalties were being exacted from QFS, despite a delay damages clause in the tender document of 0.1% on capital value per section per day. The municipality also has not responded to TotT’s queries about this.
James Rodden commented: “I think the penalties are being negated by the municipality due to them ‘accepting’ blame for the initial delays. Should the municipality enforce penalties I believe the work will come to a stop as it would result in the event of the whole thing being dragged out in court. And I wouldn’t put it past the municipality to do this as we have seen in the past at how adept they are at dealing with these matters. As per their recent showing in court regarding a senior official not knowing what he had signed for.”
In respect of the laying of pipes, Jacobus Grove said: “The plant could have been placed adjacent to the river and no money wasted digging trenches and piping to get water to the plant. What an incompetent company QFS is.”
When the municipality announced the appointment of QFS in a statement on November 25, it said “work will commence on the installation of the plant as soon as possible. It is anticipated that the plant will be in production by end January 2020.”
However, in the final full council meeting of 2020 on December 10, the date for completion of the plant was pushed to the end of February 2021, something which escaped most people’s notice.
Then, in an update from the municipality on February 3, they said there had been a delay in the contractor getting the required work permit. The completion date was pushed to April.
There has been no explanation for the latest delay, and no further update on the second phase 3ML wastewater reclamation plant.