Talk of the Town
Ndlambe waiting for QFS to return, despite payment
In the November 3 edition, Talk of the Town reported on the contractual dispute between Ndlambe Municipality and the operator of the 2ML reverse osmosis (RO) plant (‘New setback for water-strapped PA’, 3/11/2022, p3).
Talk of the Town reported on the Makhanda high court judgment which found that R600,000 was owed to QFS and that the company had provided adequate notice of its intention to suspend work on the project, and dismissed Ndlambe’s application for the court to compel QFS to continue its work pending arbitration.
Here, the municipality comments on the judgment and responds to questions from Talk of the Town on plans to restore the water supply:
“Ndlambe Municipality awarded a contract in November 2020 to a Service Provider [QFS] for the Design, Build and Operate [DBO] of a 2ML/day salt water reverse osmosis [SWRO] Plant and a 3ML/day waste water reverse osmosis [WWRO] plant.
“The project was implemented to assist the municipality with the water crisis and shortage of supply for potable water.
“During the implementation and execution of the project, a number of issues were identified and these were discussed over a period of time with QFS. These issues included the contractual volumes of water produced that the contractor [QFS] failed to achieve from the outset of the contract.
“As no agreement could be reached on these issues, the prescribed contractual procedures were followed and disputes were declared.
“These disputes were referred to an arbitrator as prescribed in the contract document to adjudicate on the different issues in dispute.
“The contractor demanded the municipality must effect payments notwithstanding they owe the municipality monies, specifically relating to electricity. This has resulted in QFS serving a notice to the municipality that unless payment is made, they will suspend their operations and works on the RO plants.
“The impact of the suspension of works is that the current daily water supply to the community of Port Alfred has decreased by about 1.5ML/day. This has resulted in the municipality engaging with attorneys and taking a legal route on the matter, which has now been ruled by the high court.
“The municipality has chosen to implement the judgment. The monies due to QFS have been paid, on Friday October 4; the contractor was expected to have been back on site after payment but it is not yet the case.
“The municipality has instructed the employers representative to write an instruction to the contractor to go back on site immediately.
“Having considered the court judgment, the municipality still believes the suspension of the works by the contractor is unconstitutional, as this action by the contractor is depriving the communities of their constitutional right, which is to have access to potable water.
“The municipality is committed to serve the community of Port Alfred and this action by QFS is undesirable.”