End in sight for water pipe project
THE R40-million Empangeni CBD water pipe upgrade project is expected to be completed at the end of next month.
This despite a host of delays and interruptions.
The project to replace the aging water infrastructure system commenced in May last year and entailed replacing the old asbestos pipes with thicker plastic pipes on the main line from Empangeni to Ngwelezana.
According to uMhlathuze Municipality spokesperson, Mdu Ncalane, the city is committed to completing the water pipe replacement project by the end of June.
‘The city understands the frustrations of residents and the business sector in the Empangeni CBD.
‘The project has experienced many frustrations and delays, including go slows from contractor employees.
‘This has since been resolved owing to the intervention of the municipality. Ongoing progress monitoring and weekly meetings between the city and the contractors are bearing fruit,’ said Ncalane.
Meanwhile, Empangeni Division Chairman of the Zululand Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZCCI), Mike Patterson, said the loss of revenue to the business sector in the Empangeni CBD cannot be quantified.
‘This project was long overdue and the municipality should have identified the project as one that would require some prior experience and expertise in working within a busy commercial area.
‘I have observed similar excavations and trenching in the past where the traffic flow and daily business of the tenants was taken into account and a minimum amount of disruption, for a limited time, was enforced and monitored by the municipality.
‘This contract has been a very slow process with no due concern for the road users, pedestrians and the shops along the way.
‘Business has lost turnover as those who had a choice, unlike the many thousands of taxi and bus commuters who support our business sector on a daily basis, just took their business elsewhere,’ said Patterson.
‘We trust that the actual pipe laying has been regularly checked and passed by qualified engineers and that there will be no need to dig up our pavements again at a later stage.
‘Business today is not for the fainthearted but this fiasco has certainly been a great challenge to even the toughest trader.
‘These businesses are ratepayers who deserve to be treated as such and although this project may have long-term benefits, the immediate losses have had a severe impact on their sustainability,’ said Patterson.
It is not clear whether the torrential downpours this week will further delay the water pipe replacement project as deep trenches in Pearce Crescent lled up with rain water
Empangeni’s CBD is a mess with many excavated areas cordoned off
City of uMhlathuze of cial Dominic Mkhwanazi inspecting the damaged pipe Muzi Zincume
The corner at Commercial Road and Turnbull Street