Giyani Bulk Water Project: Chief halts construction and demands compensation

Local Chief Tshililo Jeffrey Ramovha is thought to be demanding compensation from the Department of Water and Sanitation for the land used for the project

The R4.5 billion Giyani Bulk Water Project may fail to reach yet another deadline after the Department of Water and Sanitation was accused of not meeting the demands of a local chief in Venda, where the project is currently underway. 

Giyani water project halted

Work on the project was abruptly stopped on Tuesday after the local chief, Tshililo Jeffrey Ramovha, sent security personnel to the site.

Ramovha is a property developer in Limpopo. One of his projects is the Nandoni Golf Estate, about 1.5 km away from the Nandoni Dam.

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He is also a senior traditional leader of the Mulenzhe Community, Chairperson of Mulenzhe Development Trust and Director of Nandoni Property Development and Investment.

Although the chief would not say why he stopped the project, he did admit to sending security personnel to the site.

“I have since withdrawn my people (security) from the site after I had reached an agreement with the minister. But I’m afraid I will not dwell on the nitty gritty of the issue at hand because the minister and I have spoken and we have reached an agreement,” said the chief.

Ramovha allegedly demands compensation

But sources told The Citizen that one of the reasons the chief stopped the project is because he was demanding compensation from the department for the land used for the project.

Ramovha allegedly wants R20 million, and has so far only secured R10 million from the department.

Although there was an agreement reached, Ramovha believes that the department is reneging on the deal.

“We were busy on site when a group of security personnel and members of his subjects abruptly stopped us from working. They said they were sent by the chief to stop us,” said a project manager for one of the sub-contractors, who asked for his name to be withheld for fear of victimisation. 

“At first, we thought it was a joke,” said another manager, who also asked not to be named. “But within minutes, a sizeable number of security vehicles came to site to beef up the chief’s security.”

“Because they were armed with dangerous weapons, including firearms, we decided to play ball. We then left the project because we did not want to be hurt. Our only fear is that this project will not be complete by the August deadline as promised.”

Construction workers fear for their lives

The project manager said they now fear for their lives and will not resume construction until Ramovha’s disagreement with the department has been resolved.

“Our biggest worry now is that the people of Giyani will still have to wait for more months, if not years, before they drink clean piped water from Nandoni Dam,” he said. 

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In April this year, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu told President Cyril Ramaphosa that the Nandoni pipeline, which is part of the Giyani Bulk Water Project, would be complete by the end of August.

He said the company delivering the project, Vharanani Properties, had successfully completed the 40.5-kilometre pipeline from Nandoni to Nsami Dam in Giyani.

“The portfolio committee on water and sanitation has confirmed that the bulk water from Nandoni Dam to Nsami is now flowing, and the project currently going on is the refurbishment of the Giyani Water Treatment Works.” 

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The last part of the Giyani Water Project will be to ensure that water is being reticulated to the villages. The remaining work on the pipeline was cosmetic and currently Nsami Dam is receiving 12 megalitres of raw water per day from Nandoni Dam, said Mchunu. 

He also said the refurbishment of the Giyani water treatment plant still needed to be done so that it reaches its capacity of 30 megalitres of water per day, which will then reach all 55 villages in Giyani as well as surrounding villages. 

The spokesperson for the department, Wisane Mavasa, was unavailable for comment for the better part of Tuesday as her phone was off. 

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