Contractor Khato Civils fired, Giyani water project stalls

Paseyesi Xihlangu from Risinga village in Giyani travels 1.5km from her house to fetch water carrying her baby.
Paseyesi Xihlangu from Risinga village in Giyani travels 1.5km from her house to fetch water carrying her baby.
Image: Masi Losi

One of the contractors in the controversial Giyani water project in Limpopo has been fired.

Yesterday, the department of water and sanitation (DWS) confirmed that Lepelle Northern Water had terminated its contract with Khato Civils.

The company was appointed by LTE Consulting - the main contractor - which was initially tasked with delivering the "turnkey" emergency water and sanitation project.

DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said they were informed that Lepelle Northern Water terminated its agreement with Khato Civils.

"Lepelle Northern Water terminated the contract because Khato Civils went off site. There were negotiations to get them back on site while we were doing the verification of the work they had billed it for the last time, before payment could be done.

"Once they could not reach an agreement, they terminated that contract with Khato Civils. Now they are in the process of appointing another one," said Ratau.

However, Lepelle Northern Water CEO Phineas Legodi disputed that they had a contract with Khato Civil, saying they only had a contract with LTE which they cancelled last year.

But Khato Civils CEO Mongezi Mnyani told Sowetan the company had not been notified of the termination.

"No, I don't know anything; no one has contacted us from the department. We were expecting to be paid yesterday [Tuesday] according to the discussions that have been going on with the department and the minister," Mnyani said.

Mnyani said Khato Civils will be taking legal action to recover the money owed to it by Lepelle Northern Water.

He said the water board missed its deadline to pay half of the R45m it owed for the work done on the project.

"Lepelle has been refusing to pay us but they have never given us any reason whatsoever for not paying us," he said.

Mnyani said his company stopped work in September when Lepelle failed to pay it despite numerous attempts to recover what was owed.

"You can't just work, I mean, they have not been paying us since last year. They've been paying in dribs and drabs, how do you work? I mean, it's a very big project and our expenses are quite high, how then are we expected to work if we're not paid for four or five months?"

"We continued working until this project was burning us. We had to take money from other projects to subsidise this project and it was after that when we realised that our company will go down, that's when we pulled off-site."

LTE Consulting CEO Thulani Majola said Khato Civils was no longer a sub-contractor on the Giyani project as it officially left site in October.

Majola also said that they have not been informed of any termination of contract and as far as they are concerned they are still the main contractor on the project and will be meeting with Lepelle to discuss how to move forward as "the work must go on".

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