R130-million water infrastructure project to end erratic water supply to UFH main campus and Alice gets underway

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The University of Fort Hare and Alice multi-million-rand water infrastructure project site has been handed over to contractors – signaling the start of work on this significant development that will end erratic water supply to the University’s main campus and communities in the small town of Alice.

The water treatment works project that was handed over yesterday, is one of two developments funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to the tune of R130-million, the second project entails the upgrading of the wastewater treatment works.

Critical to this project is the collaboration between UFH as the implementation agent, Amathole District Municipality as the owner of the water treatment works, and Raymond Mhlaba Municipality as the beneficiary of the project. The process is facilitated by the University in conjunction with Raymond Mhlaba Municipality following the signing of a memorandum of understanding.

The work to be carried out by the contractor, Mpumalanga Construction (PTY) entails extensive upgrades on the treatment plant, the reservoir, and the reticulation/ piping system. The current capacity of the water treatment works is between 70 and 80 litres per second and once the upgrade work is complete the capacity will increase to 140 litres per second.

The scope of work is as follows: 

  1. Flocculent channels to be increased from 30 metres to 95 metres
  2. Two new sedimentation basins to be constructed in addition to the three existing basins
  3. Two additional sand filters to be installed in addition to the three existing sand filters
  4. Chlorine dosing to be upgraded following hailstorm damage
  5. Existing sludge ponds to be cleaned
  6. Existing building to be renovated, including a canteen area for the staff
  7. A new 5Ml reservoir will be constructed adjacent to the existing reservoir and the old reservoir to be refurbished
  8. A new pipeline will be installed from treatment works to the reservoirs

The development is expected to take 14 months to complete and upon completion, the campus and surrounding households will have an increased and more reliable water supply with adequate pressure.

The Alice campus has been battling with the issue of erratic water supply for years. To address this ongoing challenge, a few years ago the DHET Infrastructure Support Team undertook an analysis of what was happening to identify the key problems. Based on the team's findings and recommendations, the required budget was approved by the DHET Minister.

The site handover was attended by representatives from UFH led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sakhela Buhlungu and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Support, Dr Nosisa Mayaba. Also represented were the Amathole District and the Raymond Mhlaba Municipalities.

On-site, the representatives were taken on a tour by Mr Dave De Wet from Sinakho Consulting who explained the extent of the work that will be undertaken.

Dr Mayaba who is responsible for the University’s infrastructure which falls under her portfolio said the primary focus is to improve student's experience on campus. “As we all know water is a basic need and the non-interrupted supply of water to our students is vital.”

The VC said this project is a perfect example of the District Development Model introduced by the Presidency which encourages all three spheres of government to work together to coordinate and integrate development plans.

“This project is not for certain individuals, it is for the benefit of the 10 000 students on campus and the communities that surround the University. This is a classic case of a rising tide that will raise all boats,” said the VC.