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Mangaung water project on hold after bidder challenges tender disqualification

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Staff Reporter

The installation of a new internal water reticulation system in Botshabelo’s Section R has been put on hold after the Free State High Court ordered the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality to review the awarding of the multi-million-rand contract.

Trouble started after one of the companies that had submitted a tender for the project, Down-Touch Investments (Pty) Ltd, was disqualified from bidding for not meeting the project’s minimum requirements.

These were identified as a failure to provide an original bank rating certificate and that the curriculum vitae of the company’s personnel were not certified.

The municipality’s bid adjudication committee proceeded to award the tender to a partnership between Inathi Capital Projects (Pty) Ltd and Mbako Projects and Trading CC.

This prompted Down-Touch Investments to file an urgent court application seeking an interim interdict to restrain the metro from implementing the decision to award the contract to the joint venture, pending the final adjudication of the review application.

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Inathi Capital Projects Ltd and Mbako Projects and Trading were cited as the first, second and third respondents respectively.

After hearing the application, Judge Mpina Mathebula handed down his ruling on 10 February.

He interdicted and restrained the respondents from proceeding with the implementation of the project pending the final adjudication of a review application that was to be instituted within five days of the granting of the order.

The law firm Peyper Attorneys, instructing Advocate Willem van Aswegen who appeared for the applicant, confirmed the review process was underway in compliance with the court order.

“The review application was indeed issued in accordance with the order on 17 February 2022,” Sonel Pienaar from Peyper Attorneys told The Free Stater, adding that Mangaung had 15 days to file the record of proceedings.

In his ruling, Judge Mathebula had noted that, in disqualifying Down-Touch Investments, the municipality “rigidly adhered” to its requirements and “chose form over substance”.

“Counsel for the first respondent was at pains to advance arguments to sustain logic and justification for the requirement of certified curriculum vitae when originals were part of the returned documents,” the judge said.

“The requirement that the bank rating certificate submitted by the applicant was not an original despite it being electronically produced and stamped by the bank personnel seems to be far-fetched . . .

“On these grounds it is safe to conclude that the applicant has a strong prima facie case.

“The applicant, as a bidder, has a right to a fair and competitive tender process.”

The judge said the applicant would suffer irreparable harm and inconvenience if an interim interdict was not granted.

“It was argued that the community of Botshabelo will be inconvenienced more and denied access to precious water which is a human right,” he said.

“It may well be so, but that community certainly values more to live in a state governed in accordance with the principles underpinning the doctrine of the rule of law.”

Advocate Mosioa Mazibuko, instructed by Matlho Attorneys, appeared for the municipality.

The project is part of the metro’s efforts to address the water challenges that residents of Botshabelo have been facing over the years.

A water reticulation system helps water move from the original source to the consumer.

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Parts of Free State may not have power for up to three weeks

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PROLONGED BLACKOUT LOOMS . . . Eskom says consumers in some parts of the Free State may not have electricity for up to three weeks

Eskom has warned consumers in the south-eastern Free State that they may not have electricity for up to three weeks due to voltage constraints on the network feeding the Melkspruit Substation.

The power failure resulted in electricity users in Zastron, Rouxville and Smithfield as well as those fed directly by Eskom on the RVZ and RVS 22 kV lines experiencing outages over the past weekend.

Eskom’s spokesperson in the Free State, Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg, said the problem may persist until major work on a line from the Northern Cape is completed.

“The voltage constraint on the network will persist until construction of structures on the Ruigtevallei-Valleydora 132 kV line in the Northern Cape is completed,” said Van Rensburg as she urged consumers to remain patient while the supply challenge is addressed.

“Free State teams are currently assisting to speed up the process. It is however expected that work will take two to three weeks to complete.”

“In the meantime, electricity users are urged to use electricity sparingly, especially during the morning and evening peak hours, to prevent trips,” she added.

South Africa has been experiencing rolling blackouts in recent weeks due to what Eskom has described a “continued shortage of generation capacity”.

On Sunday, the national power utility said in a separate statement it had about 3 028 megawatts on planned maintenance, while another 14 992 megawatts of capacity were unavailable due to breakdowns.

While the loadshedding is meant to ease pressure on the national grid and avoid a total collapse of the system, the practice has reportedly caused damage on some lines when power is switched back on.

Eskom has always said loadshedding is implemented only as a last resort to protect the national grid and promised to limit the implementation of loadshedding to the evening peak in order to limit the impact of the capacity shortages on the public. – Staff Reporter

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Minister shuts down troubled Free State water supplier

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MOVE GAZETTED . . . Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has disestablished Sedibeng Water

Staff and key assets from the embattled Sedibeng Water Board are set to be transferred to the Bloemwater and Magalies water boards following the gazetting of the move by Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu last week.

The department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said in a statement the development is in line with the minister’s commitment to review the country’s water boards to enable them to perform optimally while enhancing the delivery of water to municipalities and ultimately to households.

The decision to disestablish Sedibeng Water – which served Matjhabeng, Masilonyana and Nala local municipalities, among others – means its staff, assets and liabilities will be absorbed by Bloemwater in the Free State and Magalies in Gauteng.

The move, according to Ratau, was initiated by the minister following his working sessions with provincial governments, various water services authorities and water boards regarding issues of governance, financial viability as well as accountability and broader service delivery issues after taking office in August last year.

“The review is based on considerations of financial sustainability, servicing areas that are not currently serviced and is also intended to address institutional confusion caused by having multiple water boards serving the same area,” said Ratau.

“The disestablishment of Sedibeng Water is in accordance with section 28 of the Water Services Act of 1997 which affords Minister Mchunu the authority to disestablish a water board.

“The gazette was published on Friday, 20 May 2022 and will remain open to the public for a period of 40 days.

“Members of the public and all interested parties are invited to make comments in writing on the disestablishment of the board.”

The department said it will ensure there is smooth transition of the disestablishment and that water service provision to communities is not affected.

Based in Bothaville, Sedibeng Water was established to, among others, treat wastewater and supply potable water in a viabile and sustainable manner.

However, in recent years, some of the municipalities served by the water board have struggled over the years to pay on time for the bulk water supplies even though residents have argued that they pay their monthly bills on time.

At the end of March this year, Sedibeng reportedly owed its service providers over R5-billion as it was struggling to secure payment from several municipalities. – Staff Reporter

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Mangaung warns residents to brace for heavy rainfall

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DISRUPTIVE DOWNPOUR LOOMING . . . Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned heavy rainfall is expected to pound the capital

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned residents in and around the Free State capital to brace for heavy rainfall that could cause flooding this Friday.

The municipality is urging drivers to take extra caution by reducing speed and switching their headlights on, while pedestrians are being reminded to be careful when crossing the road and to avoid crossing rivers and streams where water is above the ankles.

“Residents of Mangaung Metro, particularly in the former Naledi region, are urged to be cautious on the road and in their homes as the South African Weather Service has issued an impact-based warning . . . for possible disruptive rainfall,” the metro said in a statement.

“This warning is valid for Friday, 20 May 2022 until Saturday, 21 May 2022.”

“Heavy rains are also predicted in Bloemfontein on Friday,” it added.

“Localised flooding can be expected in susceptible low-lying areas, roads, formal/informal settlements and bridges.” – Staff Reporter

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