The R3.5-billion Giyani Bulk Water project has become a battlefield for political parties ahead of the 2019 elections.
The project was initiated by former president Jacob Zuma in 2014 and was expected to be completed within nine months. But three years later, it has not yet been completed.
The Citizen reported in July that the project had stalled, with the failure of the department of water and sanitation to pay contractors’ outstanding invoices leading to them being unable to afford diesel.
Now, Simbi Phiri, executive director for the Midrand-based company Khato Civils, which is delivering the project, has told Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti: “Pay my invoices and the project will be completed.”
Since 2014, the scope of work at the project has tripled and the budget has ballooned from R502 million to R3.5 billion.
On Friday last week during a regional water summit, executive mayor for the Mopani District municipality Nkakareng Rakgoale said the stalling of the project had become a battleground for political parties gunning for votes going into the elections.
He said once completed, the project would assist more than 55 villages and farms.
During his visit to the Giyani project in May this year, Nkwinti said the department needed a total of R7.5 billion for service providers currently rendering services to the department.
Nkwinti said although the department was worried about how the project had consumed more than R3 billion during phase one, his department was prepared to fork out more money to complete the project.
Newly elected Economic Freedom Fighters Limpopo provincial chairperson Jossey Buthane has called on the people of the Mopani region not to vote for a political party that does not have their interests at heart.
Buthane urged residents to rather vote for a party that would fight for smooth delivery of basic services and swell the economy.
Zuma’s plan for the project was to garner support from the thirsty residents of Giyani, said Buthane.
Yesterday, Democratic Alliance provincial leader Jacques Smalle called on those who delayed the completion of the project and who bankrupted the department to be investigated by the Hawks and other law enforcement agencies.
“The brouhaha surrounding the Giyani project must serve as a wake-up call for the people of Limpopo to think, going to elections next year, because the ANC is not serious and has never been serious about the lives of our people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Khato Civils now believes a total of R629 million will be needed for the completion of the project.
Khato Civils’ chief executive Mongezi Mnyani said the project stalled because the department was failing to pay invoices.
“We have invoiced the department through Lepelle Northern Water [a state-owned entity responsible for bulk-water supply on behalf of the department in Limpopo].
“The invoice is valued at R89 227 549.86 and the department was only able to pay R25 897 537.35. We are still owed R63 330 012.51.
“We submitted the invoice on March 23 but to date there is still no action from Lepelle and the department. Once we get paid, the project will move,” said Mnyani.