Last year, the Action for Accountability (A4A) project raised crucial concerns about dangerous open manholes and incomplete water infrastructure maintenance in Mondeor Ward 54.

A4A is a collaborative effort between the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Accountability Lab South Africa, and the Public Service Accountability Monitor.

The A4A initiative, co-funded by the European Union, took a significant step by engaging various stakeholders, including the ward councillor and Rand Water Project Manager, Bathande Nyombolo.

The engagement focused on the Rand Water G20 pipeline project, which aimed to replace a problematic 1.2km section of a 16km pipeline stretching from Butchers Hill to Moroka via Mondeor Ward 54.

While the original timeline was set for the project’s completion in May 2021, various factors have contributed to setbacks.

In response to the concerns of stakeholders and the community, Rand Water acknowledged the issues and outlined the progress, current status, and ongoing efforts to ensure accountability and transparency.

Challenges and delays

According to Ramateu Monyokolo, chairperson of the Rand Water Board, several unforeseen challenges and delays arose during the project, leading to the extension of the completion timeline:

• Disruption because of Covid-19: The Covid-19 pandemic led to nationwide restrictions imposed under disaster management, which caused the suspension of work for safety reasons.

• Community unrest: During the pandemic, community unrest further hindered construction activities, delaying progress.

• Community demands: Local community groups sought work packages for local enterprises within Ward 54, causing work stoppages and disruptions.

• Inclement weather: Adverse weather causing unsafe working conditions because of factors like hard rock and high water tables added to the project’s challenges.

• Contractor challenges: Cash flow issues faced by the contractor impacted sub-contractor payments and overall performance.

Progress to date

Despite these challenges, the project has made commendable progress. They have completed the pressure testing, tie-in, and commissioning of the replacement pipeline, and the pipeline is now operational.

The remaining construction activities have also made substantial headway:

• Trench work: Excavation, pipe laying, and backfilling of trenches are at 98% completion.

• Air valve chambers: Construction of precast air valve chambers stands at 95% completion.

• Area reinstatement: Clearing and reinstating the construction area has reached 70% completion.

• Old pipeline removal: Removal of the old G20 pipeline, a critical step in the project, has reached the halfway mark.

Given the progress achieved, the revised projected completion date is September 30, 2023.

Project communication

Rand Water acknowledges the importance of transparent and open communication with its stakeholders, especially the local community.

They dedicated a community liaison officer (CLO) to the project, facilitating updates and addressing concerns raised by the community.

The ward councillor, Steward Murray, has also been engaged, ensuring they effectively communicated progress updates and queries.

The CLO and the ward councillor have remained well-informed about project developments, challenges faced, and mitigation measures implemented by Rand Water.

These measures include penalties imposed on the contractor for delays, utilising internal Rand Water resources, and other strategic actions aimed at overcoming the obstacles.

Engagement with stakeholders

In February 2023, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation expressed interest in the project information.

Rand Water, committed to protecting proprietary and project-specific information, advised the foundation to follow established protocols under the Promotion of Access to Public Information Act (PAIA). To date, they have not received a formal request from the foundation. Rand Water welcomes the foundation to resubmit the request following PAIA guidelines.

Rand Water remains dedicated to ensuring community welfare remains a top priority throughout the project’s lifecycle. They will provide ongoing engagement and updates to all stakeholders, assuring them of the progress made and the proactive measures taken to address challenges.

The G20 pipeline project in Ward 54, Mondeor, demonstrates Rand Water’s commitment to accountability, transparency, and effective infrastructure development.

Despite unforeseen challenges, they achieved significant progress, and the company is resolutely focused on completing the project to enhance water security for the local community.

ALSO READ: Action for Accountability (A4A) protest action at Mondeor