Problems at Shabaniee Mashaba Mines (SMM) have scuttled a multi-million dollar government project for producing piping for the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane Dam link, regarded as the panacea to Bulawayo’s perennial water woes.
Bulawayo is under a water-rationing regime but council officials say it has been ineffective and there might be need to consider introducing water-rationing as well as increasing water tariffs.
Turnall Holdings won a tender to supply pipes for the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane Dam Link project but failed to get the asbestos from the collapsed mines.
Turnall confirmed yesterday that it had to return $1,4 million the company had received from government for the supply of the pipes.
“Government and Zinwa want to use local fibre but as you know, Mashaba and Shabaniee mines are currently flooded,’’ said John Jere, managing director of Turnall Holdings, in response to enquiries from NewsDay yesterday.
“We are not in a position to produce the required piping because we get the raw materials from those mines. In that sense, the deal has not materialised
but there are types of pipes that they can use like steel and PVC (poly vinyl chloride), for instance, and I suppose there are issues to consider like costs and so on.
“We had been advanced $1,4 million for the supply of the piping, but we returned it two weeks ago and we are not complaining because we are not manufacturing the pipes.’’
Earlier yesterday, during a monthly media briefing, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) director of engineering services Simela Dube had told journalists that there was need to ‘‘remodel the delivery’’ of the Mtshabezi- Umzingwane Dam link project and resuscitation of the Nyamandlovu Aquifer boreholes both being implemented by Zinwa.
He said there was need to have a project stakeholder oversight committee that included BCC and other players as Zinwa’s performance was not up to scratch.
“With regard to the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipeline link, the project is supposed to take 12 to 18 months but it could really be fast-tracked (with proper oversight),’’ said Dube.
“Money was paid to Turnall under the $7 million funding for the project for the supply of the asbestos cement piping but that is not possible because of the closure of Shabanie Mine and the Infrastructure Development Bank has asked Turnall to return the money.’’
He said the city was facing a water crisis as its five supply dams — Insiza, Umzingwane, Inyankuni and Lower and Upper Ncema — were only 45 percent full as of August 1, 2010.
Dube said at current consumption rates of 140 000 cubic metres per day, all the dams except for Insiza were likely to be decommissioned by November this year because of poor inflows during the last rainy season.
He said Insiza held 80 percent of the water and it was important to urgently duplicate the pipeline from the dam.
The duplication project required $60 000. Dube said the water-rationing scheme in place was not yielding results because the water charges and penalties were too low and therefore not reflective of the scarcity of the commodity.
“We might be forced to consider water shedding where we close water at the source and we say you will have water during these days or hours. But this will not be extended to business and industry,’’ he said.