GRP Water Pipeline Cost Increases To Over P1.4 Billion

20 September 2000

Companies involved in the African North South Carrier Water Project (NSCWP) pipeline from Letshebogo to Gaborone face the possibility of being charged for damages for failure to complete the project within the stipulated period. The NSCWP which is the largest single public investment ever taken in the country was scheduled for commissioning last year in May, will now be commissioned next month, 17 months behind schedule. The cost and time overruns are responsible for P200 million in additional cost of the P1.2 billion project. The delay has been attributed to technical problems such as testing and leakages of the pipeline component as well as failure of mechanical equipment and plant. The Chief Executive of Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), Boikanyo Mpho which is the project owner, says the "actual final cost of the whole project will not be known until all certificates and claims have been settled, which could be up to one year or more from the commissioning date. However the revised estimated cost of the project is now P1.4 billion compared to the original estimated cost of P1.2 billion" explained Mpho Among the companies that may be charged with liquidated damages for failure to complete their aspects of work within the stipulated periods in terms of the contract are LTA, CCC and Balfour, which tendered as a joint venture to undertake the construction project. Europipe, which provided the steel pipes and Flowtight that provided the GRP pipes may also face charges of damages if their pipes are blamed for the various leakages. According to sources within the project, the GRP pipes have accounted for much of the leakages during the testing process. Two years ago the media exposed the technical weakness of the GRP which were produced by Owens Corning which has now been taken over by Flowtight. Although there was imperative evidence that the local produced pipe had a high rate of defection, both government and the supplier of pipes denied that the pipes would cause problems for the project. Mmegi was this week informed by a knowledgeable source within the NSCWP that "there is no evidence these pipes will last for 50 years as normal one would expect from pipeline material. NSCWP has been given 15 years guarantee by the joint venture that was given the tender. Under this guarantee if these pipes give us problems within that period then the joint venture of the contractors will come and repair or pay for the repairs services. You will appreciate that we have no reliable history of GRP pipes to deny that these pipes may not last for more than five or ten years". However industry critics warned that WUC should brace itself for a prolonged testing period, as GRP pipes are not likely to withstand the pressure. Early this year WUC was reported to be facing cashflow problems arising from debt obligations pertaining to the project.

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