THE head of a Port Elizabeth water engineering firm has warned of an imminent crisis caused by the collapse of infrastructure at six dams supplying a third of the province's water.
This after the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs failed to award a tender for the maintenance of crucial machinery.
A senior official has also this week been ordered to explain to the court why the department failed to supply Surface Preparations Equipment and Coatings (Pty) Ltd with crucial documents about its decision not to award the tender, despite being ordered to do so.
Surface Preparation's Arnoldus Avenant explained in court papers that the province faced an "imminent water crisis" and a massive waste of public funds if the tender situation was not resolved. He said up to the end of last year the company held the contract for the maintenance of equipment at six of the province's dams.
When the contract was put out on tender again, the company was told it was the preferred bidder. The contract was, however, never awarded.
The company applied for a long list of documentation in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, but the department ignored this.
He said his company's tender had expired last November.
Avenant said that "closure of current projects at the six dams has become inevitable" as his company now carried the payroll costs totaling R430000 per month with no assurance that it would be reimbursed by the government.
Avenant said he would only be able to sue the government for damages if the company's losses were incurred because of fraud in the tender process, but he could not sue for the "dilatory or obstructive conduct" of the department's officials.