The V&A Waterfront desalination plant has been lying dormant for several months while the City of Cape Town and its supplier, Quality Filtration Systems (QFS), are caught in a dispute.
This particular plant was the first to come online in Cape Town and is able to produce roughly 2-million litres of potable water daily when operational.
According to QFS’s managing director, Herman Smit, while speaking to Cape Talk about the dispute, the company was given a R53-million contract in January 2018 to build the plant. Part of the agreement was that the company would cover the cost of building the plant and then sell the water to the City.
The construction was completed in March but the City did not purchase the water. Smit says this was just the first contractual dispute.
“The city started taking a portion of the water on the 28th of May and the full water in September. There is multiple contract breaches and the non-payment is only one of them,” said Smit.
Smit says the City is yet to pay the full amount it owes for the construction, which was due to be paid eight months ago, and the company has only received R1.7-million of the R53-million owed.
The plant had already produced 181-million litres of water up until it went dormant in January.
“Nobody wants to talk to us at the city. We’ve been sending emails and letters to (councillor) Xanthea Limberg and it just gets ignored. In October we had to go to the high court to force them to go into mediation. The city set the general condition of the contract; remember there is a capital that we put in there, it’s our money. Now they don’t want to pay for the equipment after they got everybody to spend their money. We are an SME we don’t have deep pockets like multinational companies so it hurts our company not to get paid for the money we spent on this,” says Smit.
As the dam levels dip further and one of the city’s largest water-producing plants lies dormant, many are questioning the City’s motives and wondering when the plant will return to full operation to supply much-needed water to Cape Town.