It was in 2014 that President Zuma launched the Limpopo water project. His aim was to provide water to the drought-troubled areas of the province.
This is the tail end of the year 2017, the dream of providing water to Limpopo is yet to be actualized and, over R2 billion has been spent on the project which was initially valued at R502 million.
From what we gathered, the Limpopo water project has gulped over four times what it was supposed to cost. Despite that, the project is far from being completed. So far, three companies contracted to work on the project abandoned it due to protracted payment issues with Water and Sanitation Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane.
Sometimes in August 2016, Vharanani Properties decided that it’s no longer interested in providing the services it was contracted to provide. Vharanani Properties which was contracted by an agent of the national department of water and sanitation – Lepelle Northern Water – to install pipelines, abandoned the project after the department failed to pay the company R80million.
Not long past, another company contracted – South Zambezi – left the project because Lepelle wouldn’t pay it a service fee of R40 million. South Zambezi was contracted to supervise the project. The company is owned by Simbi Phiri.
Also, another company (Khato Civils) owned by Phiri stopped the construction works they were given due to financial problems.
Confirming that Vharanani Properties abandoned the project, the owner of the company, David Mabilu said:
“Yes, we have moved out of the construction site, because our constant pleas for payment always fell on deaf ears. We took the department and Lepelle Northern Water to court in June, after they dismally failed to pay us.
“The court ruled in our favour and forced the department to pay us. But three months later, we are still waiting. In July, the department paid us R51 million and promised to settle the remainder before the end of July. After failing to pay us, we then decided to move our plant out of the construction site,” Mabilu detailed.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of water and sanitation, Sputnik Ratau said the department is working towards resolving all the problems identified with the Limpopo water project.