City of Cape Town in dispute with V&A desalination plant contractor

A contractual dispute between the City of Cape Town and Quality Filtration Systems (QFS) has rendered the V&A Waterfront desalination plant dormant for several months now.

It was one of the first plants to become operational, capable of producing about 2 million litres of potable water per day.

QFS managing director Herman Smit speaks to Cape Talk's Pippa Hudson about the dispute.

According to Smit, the company was awarded a R53 million contract on 8 January 2018 to build a reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant.

The agreement was that QFS would cover the cost of the build and then sell the water to the city.

The construction was completed by 13 March 2018 but the city did not take the water, which he says was the first contractual dispute.

Read: Cape Town desalination plants are in full swing

The city started taking a portion of the water on the 28th of May and the full water in September.

Herman Smit, Managing director - Quality Filtration Systems

There is multiple contract breach and the non-payment is only one of them.

Herman Smit, Managing director - Quality Filtration Systems

Smit says QFS hasn't been paid since eight months ago. The city only paid R1.7 million thus far.

The plant has produced 181 million litres up to the end of January, says Smit.

This dispute process has been going on since the 7th of August.

Herman Smit, Managing director - Quality Filtration Systems

Nobody wants to talk to us at the city. We've been sending emails and letters to (councillor) Xanthea Limberg and it just gets ignored.

Herman Smit, Managing director - Quality Filtration Systems

In October we had to go to the high court to force them to go into mediation.

Herman Smit, Managing director - Quality Filtration Systems

The city set the general condition of the contract; remember there is a capital that we put in there, it's our money.

Herman Smit, Managing director - Quality Filtration Systems

Now they don't want to pay for the equipment after they got everybody to spend their money. We are an SME we don't have deep pockets like multinational companies so it hurts our company not to get paid for the money we spent on this.

Herman Smit, Managing director - Quality Filtration Systems

To hear the rest of the conversation, listen below:


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