Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Water metre tender row erupts in Good Hope

A row over a Water Management System is brewing in the Good Hope Sub District Council.

Imported prepaid water metres purchased by the council have pitted councilors against the administrative head of the council.

The people’s representatives demand answers to the circumstances that led to the award of the tender for the supply of the pre-paid metres to BIT Services without being advertised. ┬á

The council’s Committee of Supply is currently trying to get to the bottom of the matter with a view to establish if conflict of interest prevailed.

The Council Secretary, Patrick Ncaagage, last week refused to disclose to the Sunday Standard the exact amount paid to the supplier of the water metres  imported from Holland, which sources allege cost P2 million. His line was that it would be improper for him to disclose the amount without obtaining permission.

He could also not say why the tender for the supply of the metres was not advertised.

“There was no tender per se. We looked for people who could supply the metres but we couldn’t find anyone other than BIT Services,” he told the Sunday Standard.

It was not possible to reach BIT Services by the time of going to press.

The Council Secretary confirmed that the metres were imported from Holland since they were not available in neighbouring South Africa. He disclosed that the council bought a consignment of 575 metres from BIT Services. The metres are sold to prospective customers for P1 600 per component, he said, adding that the amount excludes the P200 connection fee.

Explaining why the council embarked on the Water Management System pilot project two months before the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) took over as the water authority, the council secretary said the council was getting increasingly worried by the non-payment of water bills coupled with misuse of water in the district.

“We cracked our heads to find out how we could resolve the issue of non-payment and misuse of water and came up with this system [Water Management System]. The council could not disconnect everyone. You may be interested to know that the Sub District does not have enough ground water to cater for 44 villages,” he said.

He, however, did admit that there was no tendering before BIT Services was awarded the tender but would not say how the company knew about the tender.

Commenting on the reservations by councilors in the district over the pilot project, the council chairman, Joseph Ketumile Leepile, said the council took a resolution to purchase the metres. He admitted that there are dissenting voices regarding the pilot project.

“This issue was discussed and approved by council. It is true that there are dissenting voices but the decision to purchase the metres was taken by a majority,” said Leepile.

Some council sources, however, hold that the responses from both the administrative and political heads of the council smell and sound like a cover up. ┬áThey argue that the Council Secretary unilaterally appointed the supplier ÔÇô a charge he has denied. ┬áSome councilors say it beats logic why the Sub District Council would purchase a consignment of water metres from Holland two months before the WUC took over as the water authority in the area.

The Water Utilities Corporation Corporate Communications Manager, Matida Mmipi, confirmed that the water authority inherited prepaid water metres from the council when the corporation took over in April this year. She put the figure at 386 units.

Residents of Good Hope are fuming that as a result of importing metres from Holland, they have to wait for three months before they are connected. But the Council Secretary said the delay is attributed to the high number of applications received by his office.

“We had 4000 applications before Water Utilities Corporation took over,” according to Ncaagage.
 
┬á“WUC inherited application for connection backlogs from the former water authority in the area and is working to address those as well as new applications. The delay in connections is attributed to this. The Corporation has worked out a schedule for connecting customers in the area,” said Mmipi.

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