Delighted University of Fort Hare Vice-Chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu has praised contractors, labourers and stakeholders for progress on the R45.8-million Alice water infrastructure project funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
The project sees UFH as the implementation agent, Amathole District Municipality as the owner of the water treatment works and Raymond Mhlaba Municipality as the beneficiary.
Earlier this week, the University’s ad hoc Infrastructure Oversight Committee visited the site at Ntselamanzi to mark the project’s 50 per cent completion milestone.
The multimillion rand undertaking, which aims to put an end to the area’s erratic water supply, is expected to be fully operational in the second quarter of 2024.
During the site visit, Buhlungu said the project would give dignity back to UFH staff, students, residents and those in the surrounding villages.
“The impact of water supply interruptions will be a distant memory. Through this project, we will double the capacity of what we had before,” he said.
The upgrades will see capacity of the plant increase to 140 litres per second from the existing 70 to 80 litres per second.
Consulting agent Dave de Wet of Sinakho Consulting said the project was well on track and expected to be finalised by April next year.
In the first eight months of the 14-month contract, the focus fell on concrete work and establishing the pipeline to the new reservoir site.
“We hope to cast the roof of the reservoir before the end of December. We also hope the concrete work will be done by then,” De Wet said.
One of the great benefits of the project is job creation for Alice residents and small businesses.
More than 50 people from the community are employed on the project while 30 per cent of the project’s total budget has been earmarked for local procurement and local SMMEs, according to UFH Director of Properties and Services Lungisa Gongxeka.
“There are eight SMMEs on the project and we are confident the opportunity will assist them to improve their CIBD (Construction Industry Development Board) grading and grow their businesses,” he said.
Buhlungu said the infrastructure project was the university’s way of ploughing back into the community using its resources and standing as an institution.
He reiterated that the project was a stellar example of the District Development Model introduced by the Presidency to encourage all three spheres of government to work together in coordinating and integrating plans.
Alice has suffered years of unstable water supply with taps going dry for days on end in some cases.
Lectures have even been suspended at the university on occasion, such has been the magnitude of the crisis.
But, thanks to the overhaul of the water system, such incidents are set to be no more.
The scope of the Alice Water Treatment Works includes:
• Flocculent channels increased from 30 to 95 metres;
• Two new sedimentation basins constructed in addition to the three existing ones;
• Two sand filters installed in addition to the three existing ones;
• Chlorine dosing upgraded following hailstorm damage;
• Existing sludge ponds cleaned;
• Existing building, including staff canteen, renovated;
• New 5Ml reservoir constructed adjacent to the existing one and latter refurbished; and
• New pipeline installed from treatment works to the reservoirs.