City denies ‘bungling’ over desalination


The city of Cape Town has defended a decision not to use a water desalination company, GrahamTek, which has accused the city authorities of “bungling”. The Cape Messenger reports

The story  “City of Cape Town’s water bungle”, carried in the Weekend Argus, an ANC-government supporting newspaper in Cape Town, drew a rapid response from city authorities.

Councillor Xanthia Limberg, the city’s mayoral committee member in charge of water and energy,  confirmed that the city had cancelled a group of tenders last Thursday for temporary containerized deal plants in Cape Town. “Tenders have to be cancelled prior to reissue. The tenders for Hout Bay and Dido valley were reissued on (Friday) 13 October and the Granger Bay tender will be reissued as soon as legal issues are resolved.”

She said environmental complexities ruled out most of the initial desalination sites explored on the peninsula due to the coastal protected area. Initially, 17 sites had been pursued which were reduced to 10. Further, the site had to be located close to reticulation infrastructure – for the water to enter the supply system.

Thus the Monwabisi and Strandfontein desalination plants were scheduled to come on stream in February 2018 “but we are exploring opportunities to implement earlier, once internal funding issues are resolved”.

GrahamTek chief executive Julius Steyn told Weekend Argus that the city had failed to act with sufficient urgency. “I am frustrated,” he said. “The solution could have been provided. There’s absolutely no excuse for this failure. They ignored the warnings in meeting after meeting, possibly for fear of doing something wrong.”

The city said in response that the quality of the submissions in the request for information issued – and which closed in July “were too poor to obviate a further Request for Proposal process”.

GrahamTek, based in Strand, submitted a proposal in May to provide the region with 450 million litres a day within 18 months. It claimed it could do it at “affordable prices”. Limberg said it was not appropriate to discuss the details of “the offerings of individual businesses”.

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