Zille blames department of water for stalled Clanwilliam Dam project

Helen Zille. (File, Beeld)
Helen Zille. (File, Beeld)

Cape Town – A project which aims to double the capacity of the Clanwilliam Dam in the Western Cape will not be able to proceed because of a lack of funding.

This is according to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, who on Monday said the project, for which R2bn had been budgeted as far back as 2013/2014, would not be able to continue because the national Department of Water and Sanitation had run out of money.

Departmental spokesperson Sputnik Ratau did not immediately respond to enquiries.

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Zille said the project was due to double the capacity of the dam to 340 million cubic metres, enabling increased storage capacity and increased water security in the Cederberg and Matzikama area.

The project, through which the dam wall would have been raised, would also have addressed the growing safety concerns due to structural problems in the ageing dam wall.

"It was all systems go, with the completion date scheduled for mid-2018. There was a lot of excitement in the area when the department's internal construction unit – Construction South – commenced site establishment in Clanwilliam in June 2014," said Zille in a statement.

Lapsed tender

"The department decided to go out on tender instead of using its in-house construction capacity."

She said the tender was never awarded and lapsed at the end of December 2017 due to the department not having funds to appoint a successful bidder.

"For almost four years, 53 departmental staff members have been twiddling their thumbs in Clanwilliam, waiting for construction to start. The cost for their stay – for the month of February 2017 alone – according to a reply to a parliamentary question, was R2.5m. This means that over four years, more than R100m was being wasted, while the regional economy declined due to a shortage of water," Zille said.

In April 2017, in a reply to questions in the National Assembly, Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said the department was still evaluating and adjudicating the tender bids.

"Further details will only be known once a contractor has been appointed, after completion of the full procurement process," she said in response to a question about the contractors.

In a presentation in May 2017, by then department director-general Dan Mashitisho, it was stated that the initial completion date at the time of bidding had been May 21, 2018.

Businesses under threat

The presentation stated that no work on the dam itself could have commenced without the awarding first of tenders, which had been delayed through the supply chain management system within the department.

Mashitisho said in the presentation that an alternative implementation model was approved in November 2015, which required the procurement of a private sector contractor to construct the raising of the dam wall. The bid apparently closed in November 2016.

Zille said the drought in the Western Cape had placed an estimated 20% of farmers in the Clanwilliam and Vredendal areas under threat of going out of business.

"Much of this economic damage could have been averted if the dam wall raising project that was promised had materialised.

"The scandal of the Clanwilliam Dam wall project is unfortunately not an isolated case. Indeed, for every high-risk municipality in the Western Cape, there is a failed, delayed or abandoned DWS (Department of Water and Sanitation) water supply project," said Zille.

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