The R2,7-billion Vaal River Eastern Subsystem Augmentation Project (Vresap) officially started delivering water to the mothballed and new Eskom power stations and to Sasol in the Mpumalanga province, this month.
The 121-km pipeline project was implemented to meet the growing water demands and the need for an assured supply by Eskom and Sasol at their respective thermal power station and petrochemical facilities in Mpumalanga.
The pipeline transfers water from the Vaal dam to the diversion structure at Knoppiesfontein near Secunda. From there, it is discharged into either the Trichardtsfontein dam, for Eskom's supply, or Bosjesspruit dam, for Sasol.
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Lindwe Hendricks said that the Vresap had contributed to stimulating economic growth and job creation.
"The project has contributed significantly to the achievement of Government's objectives for promoting broad based black economic empowerment. As done successfully on the recently inaugurated Berg Water project, socio-economic policies were implemented to maximise employment, procurement and training opportunities for local communities," she said.
Vresap has resulted in the creation of 1 885 jobs, of which 1 315 employees were sourced from the local community, and 5 648 person-years work opportunities created.
Goods procured from black-empowerment companies totalled R315-million, while R29-million were sourced from local enterprises and R228-million from small, medium-sized and micro enterprises.
Local companies were used for temporary fencing of servitude, plant hire, transportation of workers, stationary and general supplies for site offices along the length of the pipeline as well as in providing accommodation for all personnel.
Vresap had met all its environmental and social economic targets.
A significant challenge to project implementation was land acquisition and management of the process. More than 100 landowners were affected by this project. Hence, the pipeline contract involved extensive outreach and interaction with the farmers in the region with respect to servitudes, access security and fire concerns.
Vresap project manager Wynand Maartens said that the project's pump station was the largest in Africa.
Vresap comprises abstraction works, a low-lift pump station at the Vaal dam, a balancing dam and a high-lift pump station, a 10 000 cubic metre surge tank, as well as an upgraded concrete division structure at Knoppiesfontein.
The permanent excavation is about 28-m deep and is built to deliver at full capacity even when the Vaal dam is at its minimum of 16%. The permanent abstraction work will be completed by March 2010.
As a pilot for a development model for Women in Construction, six women-owned emerging companies from Mpumalanga, Rustenburg, Pretoria, the Johannesburg East Rand and Soweto were trained to construct air valve chambers.
The main construction contracts for building the 115 km pipeline from the Vaal Dam to Secunda and for constructing the associated abstraction works, pump stations and related works were awarded to Mpumalanga Pipeline Contractors joint venture (JV) comprising Murray & Roberts Construction, Group Five Construction, WIC Construction and J&J Group and Covec-MC JV comprising China Overseas Engineering Corporation and Mathe's Construction. The contract value were R1 390-million and R418-million respectively.
The consulting engineers are a JV known as Vaal Pipeline Consultants consisting of Goba, PD Naidoo & Associates and Ninham Shand.