Vets threaten water project

2020-01-13 15:32
 A file image of MK Vets.

A file image of MK Vets. ( mkhonto wesizwe)

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MK veterans have threatened to block a critical water project if a court rules in favour of two companies challenging a multi-million rand Umgeni Water tender.

The local leadership of the Mkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association has threatened to block WBHO and Icon Construction from working on the Nagle and Wiggins water system project should the companies win their court bid against Umgeni Water.

“They will never set foot on that site, we will make sure of it,” MKMVA regional secretary Menzi Mkhize told The Witness.

He was responding to reports that the construction companies of a joint venture, WBHO-Icon, had approached the Pietermaritzburg high court over the awarding of the tender. The companies were among four that tendered for the project and disputed that the contract was awarded to Klomac Engineering fairly.

Klomac is a Durban-based company specialising on water and sanitation with 40 years of industry experience. They have been involved in dozens of projects across the country, including the Bergville sewer treatment works and Middledrift water treatment plant.

“We are fed up of these big companies who are trying to monopolise tenders. Whenever their bids don’t win they try and frustrate the process by running to court and crying foul. I’m sick and tired of their nonsense and oppressive tendencies,” said Mkhize.

He said the delays caused by such court bids were unfair to the communities who were waiting for service delivery as well as entrepreneurs who were looking at such projects for business opportunities.

Mkhize said if WBHO-Icon win their court bid and eventually get the tender, he would mobilise a massive campaign and block them from accessing the site.

“They won’t be able to work a single day on that project and this is not just an idle threat, mark my words.”

Asked why the MKMVA was interested in the matter, Mkhize said veterans looked for opportunities to get sub-contracted or employed on such projects. He said most of them were unemployed and struggled to support their families.

On Friday, Fin24 reported that WBHO-Icon argued that by awarding the tender to Klomac, Umgeni Water was “in breach of good fiscal policy” due to its excessive price.

WBHO-Icon claimed that Klomac’s price for the tender is R919 million more expensive than its own bid for the project. They also say that Klomac’s price is R514 million more expensive than Umgeni Water’s estimated construction costs for the project and R121 million more than Umgeni’s total budgeted project costs.

This dispute comes shortly after Umgeni finalised another court matter over Howick’s Mpophomeni waste treatment plant where there was a three-year delay to the start of the project due to a row over the tender process. The site was eventually handed to the contractor in November.

Umgeni spokesperson Shami Harichunder said he could not comment at this stage due to the matter being sub judice. He said the water utility was fully committed to implementing requirements of last month’s court order.

The water utility’s obligations in respect of this court order include submitting a copy of the complete record of the said tender by Wednesday, January 15. “Consultations will begin with Umgeni Water’s legal representatives in the next few days to compile the record that will contain all relevant documentation that informed decision making pertaining to awarding of the said tender,” said Harichunder.

He said Umgeni would provide answering papers next month if written response was received from WBHO-Icon to the record that was submitted.

The project for the rehabilitation of the Nagle and Wiggins system will include upgrading the infrastructure so that it can continue supplying potable water to the greater Durban area. The Nagle system supplies the 614Ml/d Durban Heights water treatment plant and the Inanda Wiggins system supplies the 350 Ml/d Wiggins treatment plant.

Attempts to get comment from Klomac were unsuccessful.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  mk vets

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