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Controversial water-pipe project ‘flowing’ again

The R133-million Jozini water-pipe project is on the move again — and 15km of the 9,000 units have already been set in place underground.

The project caused outrage in 2012 after sections of piping were abandoned in the open fields of Jozini by a company linked to Sbu Ncube, the late husband of KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomsa Dube-Ncube.

The saga of the abandoned pipes was made public by the Sunday Times and put then-KZN premier Zweli Mkhize under pressure.

The newspaper revealed that Afriscan, the company that won the tender to install the pipes, was linked to Ncube, the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs at the time.

Ncube claimed that he had resigned from the company three weeks before the tender was awarded.

The project resumed last year after the uMkhanyakude District Municipality agreed to fund the installation of the pipes to increase the distribution of water to nearby communities from the Jozini Dam.

The abandoned pipes had served as a hideout for criminals who terrorised communities in the far north of KZN.

Jozini resident Linah Nkosi said it was painful to see the abandoned pipes while they were suffering from a water shortage.

“We are glad that at last the district municipality has decided to resume the work to install those water pipes,” she said.

The pipeline will benefit the communities of Ngwanase, Jozini, Ngwavuma and nearby areas.

On Wednesday, Jozini mayor Siphile Mdaka and his executive inspected several sites to confirm that the installation of the pipes was going according to schedule.

He said the controversy over the pipes has been a problem for the municipality. The office of the Auditor General had queried the expense and the municipality had decided to install the existing pipes instead of buying new ones.

“It was difficult to have such pipes being abandoned... while people were struggling for water distribution,” Mdaka said. “The biggest challenge was the funding to pay for its installation after they were bought [for] R133-million.”

Mdaka said the project should be completed by April because the contractor works quickly.

Pictured above: uMkhanyakude mayor Siphile Mdaka at Maphaya where the water pipes were abandoned.

Image source: Celani Sikhakhane