It will cost an additional R844 million to complete the controversial Giyani water project, according to Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu, who visited the project on Wednesday.
Mchunu, who has been in Limpopo since Tuesday to assess water and sanitation projects in the province’s five regions, said: “Government has already spent a total of R3.3 billion on the project. We are still going to meet with stakeholders from government, municipalities and the Lepelle Northern Water to quantify the figures, because it is not guaranteed that after spending such money, the people of Giyani will have clean running water in their communities.”
According to the minister, the project has been marred by serious problems, including corruption and improper planning.
“From the briefing, I am told it seems there was no proper planning in place during the initial stages of the implementation of this project. There were no designs and no rigid budget put in place. That is why we have problems today,” he said.
Seven years and R3.25 billion overdue
“I was told that when the project started, it started with a budget of just above R500 million. And now the same project has run up to R3.3 billion. I am briefed the project will need more money, R844 million to make R4.1 billion for completion,” he said.
The project was initially expected to be completed within three years, but has been under construction for the past seven years. Mchunu said his department was going to work against the clock to make sure all that changes.
He said his department was going after people who had failed the project through corruption.
“Those who stole a cent from this project will soon face the wrath of the law. It doesn’t matter whether you are a senior government official or municipality guru. It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you are now. Even if you are now outside the country, we will make sure we reach you and make you pay back the money,” he said angrily.
Mchunu said his department was working with law-enforcement agencies, including the South African Police Service (Saps), the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
He said while work was in progress to name and shame those responsible, more people were still going to be arrested.
A total of four ministers, namely Nomvula Mokonyane, Gugile Nkwinti, Lindiwe Sisulu and now Mchunu, have been assigned to the project since 2014. None of them have been able to deliver a pleasing end-product.
The 55 villages which the project was intended to serve are still drinking water from rivers and fountains in and around Limpopo.
Asked what he will do differently to make sure the project is completed this time around, Mchunu said: “I am not a man of promises. I am a man of action. I am going to work around the clock with other involved stakeholders to make sure at last, the people of Limpopo and Giyani have water on their doorstep.”
During the presentations, ANC ward councilor, Erick Giyani Nkovani, popularly known by his stage name Penny Penny, warned councillors and politicians to refrain from doing business with government.
Nkovani urged the minister to work with speed to ensure there was water in Giyani.