Saturday, April 4, 2020

Pipeline burst this week proves WUC engineers right

It will be interesting to see how the Ministry of Education, led by Jacob Nkate, and that of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, led by Ponatshego Kedikilwe, will resolve the impending and potentially intractable dispute created by authorities’ decision to allocate the new university in Palapye atop a plot that cuts across the “problematic” North ÔÇô South water carrier.

On Tuesday, the pipeline burst near the area where the university is to be built, lending credence to fears recently expressed by the Water Utilities Corporation that going ahead with the construction of the university at the plot would bring new complications.

In a detailed report, the WUC engineers spelt out the kind of problems they would face if government went ahead with constructing the new university at the current site.

The biggest concern is that the pipeline would inevitably have to be rerouted.

WUC engineers say any rerouting of the pipeline as envisaged would mean automatic loss of the fifteen year warranty under the agreement.

The Corporation has a fifteen year Guarantee Agreement with the contractor who constructed the pipeline, and included in this agreement is a clause which nullifies the guarantee if the corporation modifies the pipeline material, fittings or changes the operational regime from the original design without the approval of the contractor.

“Our experience with the contractor during the six years of the agreement is that they are desperately waiting for an opportunity of breach by the Corporation to pull out of this agreement which is proving to be very costly to them due to the poor performance of the scheme.”

At the time of going to press, the pipeline had not yet been fully restored.

It is also not clear who between Nkate and Kedikilwe’s ministries will foot the bill of rerouting the pipeline.

This is in view of the WUC engineers advising that rerouting the pipeline to go around the new university site would necessarily mean the construction of a “new pump station and possibly break pressure tanks.”

The engineers are also worried that the terrain is such that in the event of a rerouting of the pipeline there will be a need to install “the more expensive” pipes which will take an extra three months as they will be sourced from Europe.

Costs aside, WUC engineers have also warned of delays and water flow disruptions that would become necessary should the government decide the pipeline has to make way for the university.
The delays will be a result of new consultations with other stakeholders in the area as well as other assessments that go with carrying out projects of such magnitude.

It is expected that as a result of possible pipeline diversion, Mahalapye and Mmamasia treatment plants will not receive water for at least five months.

Investigations by The Sunday Standard have so far shown that in anticipation of the arrival of the university, a powerful figure inside cabinet positioned themselves and made preemptive advances by accessing land chucks in Palapye in the land adjacent to the pipeline with the intention of getting compensated by government as they made way for the university.

Minimum projected costs of the 12 kilometre rerouting of the pipeline currently stand at P113 million.

Sources close to the WUC are still baffled that in their discussions with government, relocating the university is not an option taken kindly.

This is in spite of the fact that stakes are much higher with the rerouting of the pipeline.

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