Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti now plans to use solar technology to bring water to the drought-stricken town of Giyani in Limpopo amid the continuing payment tussle between service providers and his department.
Nkwinti made the announcement over the weekend to the Limpopo cooperative governance, housing and traditional affairs MEC, Jerry Ndou, Mopani District Municipality’s mayor, Nkakareng Rakgoale, the business forum and the local traditional leadership in Giyani.
“We have planned to call reputable service providers to test the sand in the town’s local rivers and see if there is water available underground,” said Nkwinti.
He said if the test was positive, the department would appoint a service provider to use the latest solar technology to draw water from the rivers to the thirsty community of Giyani.
Giyani was declared a disaster area in 2009. Several companies, including a joint venture by Tlong Re-Yeng, were previously appointed by government to address the water situation in Giyani, but they failed.
The latest is Khato Civils, which pulled out of the multimillion-rand project after the same department failed to pay them a service fee of R44 million. The company argued that it took more than nine months for the department to pay their four invoices, amounting to more than R170 million.
This, according to Khato Civils’ chief executive, Mongezi Mnyani, was in spite of the fact that their work had been checked and confirmed by the engineers from the department and Lepelle Northern Water.
Dubbed the Giyani emergency intervention water project, it was initiated by former president Jacob Zuma and commissioned by Mokonyane to the tune of R502 million in 2014. But the scope of work and costs on the project later ballooned without following legal supply chain management policies.
This saw the budget of the project ballooning from R502 million to R3.5 billion. The move attracted the attention of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which probed the project due to the allegations of irregularities.
Investigations by the SIU had been completed and revealed that Lepelle Northern Water, which was responsible for the appointment of the service provider delivering the project, contravened supply-chain management processes.
During Nkwinti’s visit on Friday, the CEO for Lepelle Northern Water, Phineas Legodi, said Lepelle could not follow a normal bidding process during the appointment of the service provider because of the emergency directives from the department.