Local firm wins key water-infrastructure project

4th August 2006 By: Bert Swart

South African engineering firm BKS has been awarded the project coordination contract for the R4,5-billion Olifants River Water Resource Development Project, including the De Hoop dam, on the Steelpoort river.

This is a Presidential project which comprises the construction of the De Hoop dam and the realignment of a section of two kilometres of the provincial road between Steelpoort and Stofberg, says technical director Bob Pullen. This project enjoys a priority status and will supply a large part of Sekukuneland and the platinum and chrome mines with water.

Construction of the 80-m high De Hoop dam will begin as soon as the record of decision has been issued and after the department has con-sidered the appeals.

Pullen says that a lot of preparatory work has been done but no soil will be turned until the record of decision has been issued.

The dam is one component of the scheme, including water-treatment works, pumpstations and pipelines.

Project Lima, a pumped-storage hydro- electric power station for Eskom, designed to deliver 1 000 MW, is another anchor project of the company.

Project Lima, also on the Steelpoort river is similar to the Drakensberg project, which was built in the late 1970s.

The company is leading a consortium pro- viding professional engineering services for site selection, geotechnical investigations, preliminary design, environmental screening and optimisation of the scheme.

The Steelpoort is a major tributary of the Olifants river, which is an international river.

This means that the planning has to take the needs of Mozambique into consideration.

Pullen says that the company adopted an integrated environmental-management approach and takes conservation and ecological matters into consideration using the precautionary principle in the design.

While South Africa is struggling to deal with backlogs in water services, which have increased over many years, the company is in a favour- able position to design and rehabilitate such infrastructure, he adds.

The government’s drive for increased service delivery regarding bulk water, the reticulation thereof and the treatment of waste is critical for social upliftment and Pullen believes it should be seen as the responsibility of all spheres of government.

“The integrated approach takes public and social concerns into consideration, maximising social benefits and minimising negative impacts for a win-win situation,” he says.

Water belongs to society and is to be developed for the good of society, including those who cannot afford to pay for it.

The company is also involved in the rehabili-tation and upgrading of 13 large and medium-sized dams for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, doing the designs, construction supervision, environmental screening, and management plans for improving flood handling and structural stability. The company has undertaken a project in the Sudan, near Khartoum in the Omdurman water supply scheme, to deliver potable water from the treatment works, and the reservoir. The contract value is estimated at $100-million. Water is abstracted from the Nile river.

In other developments, BKS deputy CEO Olaus van Zyl says that the company is well positioned to assist in developing stadiums for the 2010 soccer World Cup, and has already worked on Loftus, Newlands, Danie Craven, and Polokwane stadiums.

The company has been appointed for the design of the new Cape Town 68 000-seater Greenpoint stadium, with a contract value of R1,5-billion, Port Elizabeth’s 40 000-seater stadium, and, in Durban the 60 000- to 85 000-seater King Senzangakhona stadium, with a project budget of R1,6-billion and upgrading the Free State stadium, says Van Zyl.

Van Zyl concludes by saying that a lot of advance planning has already taken place regarding the stadiums and that it is estimated that most of the work will be finished by the end of 2008.