Giyani Bulk Water Project: Lack of planning between department and municipality criticised

Portfolio committee chairperson said it was unacceptable that communities are yet to receive water from the project.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation has voiced its concern on the apparent uncoordinated planning between the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Mopani District Municipality. This was meant to ensure that communities in Limpopo receive clean running water through the Giyani Bulk Water project.

The Department of Water and Sanitations is responsible for the bulk water infrastructure development work, while the Mopani District Municipality is accountable for the reticulation work.

The committee on Wednesday visited various sites in the Vhembe and Mopani District municipalities to assess progress on the project.

Challenges remain

The committee acknowledged that extensive work has been done, but challenges remain.

“The municipalities’ reticulation connection to households remains a huge challenge. This points to misalignment of planning, as municipalities should have taken into consideration the envisioned March 2023 completion date and made plans to reticulate the bulk water,” said Robert Mashego, the chairperson of the committee.

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Mashego said it was unacceptable that communities are yet to benefit from the investment.

“We appreciate that the department has completed the bulk infrastructure development, especially on the pipeline from Nandoni Dam to Nsami Dam in Giyani. But we are calling on municipalities to complete the process once and for all,” he said.

Giyani Bulk Water Project Limpopo
Lucy Dikobe, head of the Limpopo Department of Water and Sanitation, leads members of the Parliament Portfolio Committee on progress made with the controversial R4.5bn Giyani Bulk Water Project on Tuesday. Photo: supplied.

Mashego added that the people of Homu 14 A should not have to pay R3.50 for a 21-litre bucket of water from households with boreholes when they were promised water at the end of March.

He called on municipalities to move with speed to complete the reticulation work, which he said would finally provide the people of Giyani with clean running water.

Meanwhile, the committee was concerned by the lack of water tanker services provided to residents by the Mopani district municipality. 

Mashego said he was taken aback that the municipality has only three water tankers to serve 93 villages.

Missed deadlines

Regarding the March 2023 deadline for the completion of the project, the committee said it was disappointed that this was not met.

He said the committee was meeting on Thursday to interact with stakeholders, including the Department of Water and Sanitation, Lepelle Northern Water and municipalities to hear when they expect the project to be completed.

“We are focused in ensuring that this project is completed so that our people can have access to water, which is their constitutional right.”

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Dubbed the Giyani Bulk Water Immediate Intervention, the project began in August 2014 after a visit by former president Jacob Zuma.

During Zuma’s visit, the Limpopo provincial government declared the region a disaster area. This after two main water sources, the Middle Letaba and Nsami dams in Giyani, dried up during a drought.

The town’s waste water treatment plant was also dysfunctional, spilling waste into the Giyani River. This resulted in several people getting sick and others dying after drinking dirty water from the algae- and cholera-infested river.

Contractual problems

Zuma instructed then water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane to restore the water situation of Giyani. A company called LTE Consulting was then appointed by the department through the Lepelle Northern Water Board to deliver the project. The company then appointed a Midrand-based construction company, Khato Civils, to do the construction work.

In 2017, contractual problems between LTE Consulting and Khato Civils led to the construction company pulling out of the project.

The project began with a budget of just over R502 million. It was expected to run for three years from 2014 to 2017. The completion date for the project had already been postponed more than 10 times since inception. The budget had also ballooned from R502m to R4.5 billion.

Speaking to The Citizen on Tuesday, chair of the Giyani Business Forum, Patrick Ritshuri, said the community is running out of patience.

“Our people have been waiting for water for donkey’s years and our patience is running thin,” Ritshuri told The Citizen.

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