DWS says failure to pay construction firm nothing to do with financial woes

Eyewitness News understands that nearly 500 workers were recently retrenched by engineering company Khato Civils due to government’s non-payment.

FILE: Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG – The Water and Sanitation Department says that its failure to pay a construction company for the Giyani Water Project has nothing to do with its financial troubles.

Eyewitness News understands that nearly 500 workers were recently retrenched by engineering company Khato Civils due to government’s non-payment.

The water project, whose costs ballooned to over R3 billion from just over R500 million, was launched by former President Jacob Zuma in 2014.

It was meant to supply 55 villages with clean drinking water but only five villages have so far been connected.

The Water and Sanitation Department is in dire financial straits and the repercussions are being felt.

Last month, Parliament heard how finances were not improving and that the department would not be able to carry out 46% of its projects this year.

What this means is that companies, including Khato Civils which is owed over R180 million, have been heavily impacted and have been forced to lay off nearly 500 workers.

But the department’s Sputnik Ratau is adamant that the non-payment to the construction company has nothing to do with its bankruptcy.

“Once the technical people have reverified the work that needs to be done and the amount to be paid, that’s what they have finalised and that process is on the way.”

But Khato Civils CEO, Mongezi Mnyani, has slammed government for coming up with excuses not to pay, saying it furnished the officials with all the required documents.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)