Water cut: contractor to foot bill

Shaanaaz de Jager

A PORT Elizabeth contracting company will have to foot the bill for the damage caused to a pipe which left a large part of the city’s residents without water for about 24 hours.

It is too soon to say how much the contractor will have to pay, but the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will claim for damages.

The manager of civil engineering contractors Techni Civils, Charl du Plessis, admitted the damage to the pipe was “our responsibility and the bill will come to us”.

He said an excavation machine got stuck in muddy soil.

“The driver tried to get the machine out but as he struggled the pipe was damaged.” Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said it was standard procedure to claim from contractors when damage occurred on a job site.

He was unable to say at this stage how much the municipality would claim.

Residents in Summerstrand, Walmer, Humewood and Humerail were without water on Monday afternoon and yesterday, after a 525mm diameter steel water pipe was damaged at the Port Elizabeth Airport.

By yesterday, four water tankers were deployed in the area.

“The contractor was busy with the building of retention ponds to negate the effect of flooding on the nearby informal settlements,” Baron said.

He said the pipeline was expected to be restored by last night.

Residents took to popular Facebook page Public Servant News Network Port Elizabeth to share their frustration.

Helene Lyons wrote: “We are falling to pieces here in Walmer! Ridiculous :-(“

Luke Irlam wrote: “The Municipality is simply extending Walmer Township into Walmer itself, and to comply with regulations, had to cut all water and electricity, just so that everything feels the same …”

Gavin Wilkinson wrote: “Others get it for free. So we better just keep paying, for no ones benefit but their own! Its all for mahala!”

Samantha Lee posted shortly before 4pm: “When is the water going to be on again? R they even working on it!!?” and this was followed by about 4pm by: “ha! Its on in Walmer … for now anyway …”

In August, it cost the municipality more than R1-million to avert a water crisis after two pipes from the Churchill and Impofu dams collapsed.

The city needs about R550-million a year to eliminate the backlog of required water infrastructure and maintain the upgrades. About R180-million was allocated in the 2012-2013 budget for both maintenance and upgrades.

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