Calueque tender questioned

The national water utility has defended its decision to award a N$5 million tender to repair a vital pipeline from Angola.

09 January 2018 | Infrastructure

Stakeholders in the water sector are criticising NamWater's N$5 million project to repair the Mota-Engil pipeline that supplies water to Namibia from the Calueque Dam in southern Angola, alleging that these two pipelines were recently renovated by the Angolan government.

NamWater has defended its position, saying the situation was an emergency as the pipelines were very old and leaky, not having been repaired since their installation 35 years ago.

On Friday, NamWater's communications head Johannes Shigwedha confirmed to Namibian Sun that the water utility urgently contracted Natwe Engineering to restore water supply to the northern regions which have been interrupted by leakages at the dam in Angola.

“The current situation at Calueque has nothing to do with the operational ability of the pumps. It is the pumping lines on the outlet of the pumps that are leaking. The two 1.6-metre steel pipelines that are 12 metres underground and 60 metres in length - before discharging into the canal – have been in operation for about 35 years, and have only started showing signs of ageing recently,” Shigwedha said.

At the beginning of last year, NamWater announced that the Angolan government had spent about N$2.7 billion to rehabilitate the Calueque Dam in the Cunene River Basin in southern Angola for the benefit of Namibians.

It was further reported that the rehabilitation included the installation of three new water pumps and other state-of-the-art facilities to increase the water supply to a population of about two million people in southern Angola and northern Namibia under the 1964 Cunene River Scheme Agreement.

The stakeholders, who prefer not to be named, allege that NamWater is not being honest regarding the issue at Calueque. They allege that the pumps and pump lines at Calueque are in good condition as they were part of the renovation works by the Angolan government.

Shigwedha told Namibian Sun that they were misinformed. He said the leakages at Calueque were major shortly before the festive season, “to the point where they were compromising the integrity of the sourcing lines and the water supply security to north and central Namibia”.

“It was posing a major risk of water shortages to the northern population that normally is at its peak during this time of the year. Our CEO, Vaino Shivute, acted swiftly when information came through that the main supply line of raw water to all our plants in the Cuvelai and to the Etunda Irrigation scheme was under threat,” he said.

On 22 December, Shivute wrote a letter to the minister of agriculture, John Mutorwa, informing him that the situation at Calueque was vulnerable, but not under critical threat as they had appointed a contractor to fix leaks.

“Pumping lines from the two raw water abstraction pumps have been leaking heavily. A lot of water has been wasted and is seeping back into the pumps and switchboard building. NamWater has appointed a contractor to fix the pumping lines before it gets worse and compromises the integrity of the pumping schemes and supply of raw water,” Shivute wrote.

On Friday, Shigwedha said that repair work on the first pumping line started on 16 December and lasted for three weeks, while work on the second line is expected to be completed soon.

“The repair of the two pumping lines is progressing as scheduled despite challenges experienced. Work is carried out such that only one pumping line is being repaired at a time before proceeding to the next line,” Shigwedha said.


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