Replacing the city’s pipes, a ‘bursting’ issue for muni

POLOKWANE – The long-awaited replacing of the old asbestos pipes in the city seems to be underway despite possible financial concerns.

During the replacement process, the municipality has taken the community into consideration and decided to use a less disruptive method to replace the water pipes.
The method the municipality is using to replace the pipes is called pipe bursting, a leading trenchless method of replacing underground pipelines.

The method fractures the pipe from the inside and forces pipe fragments outwards while a new pipe is slid in to replace the existing one. There are only a few holes dug about 100 m apart through which the bursting machine is guided down the pipeline. The trenchless pipe bursting machines splits the existing pipe by pulling a pipe bursting head through the existing pipe, splitting the old pipe and pulling new pipe inside.

There are various types of pipe bursting systems, including pneumatic, hydraulic expansion and static pull systems that the municipality is using.

A pipe bursting head is ready to be used to break up old asbestos pipes and replace them with the new plastic pipe attached.

With the modern pipe bursting technology, water main pipes can be replaced without surface excavating which means a lot less money is needed while residents do not have to be inconvenienced by struggling to have water access to their homes while the project is underway.

The promise to replace the city’s waterpipes is one which was made by the previous Mayor, Freddy Greaver, and has been one of the promises the current Mayor, Thembi Nkadimeng, has been trying to realise.

The municipality initially intended to borrow R470 million but the National Treasury said should the municipality borrow the amount such expenditure will be considered to be unauthorised according to Section 15 of the Municipal Finance Act.

Despite the issues surrounding the project, the municipality has gone on with the replacement of pipes.

Following our enquiries about the project, all work by the contractor seems to have come to a halt.

By the time of going to print, Municipal Spokesperson, Matshidiso Mothapo, did not give comment with regard to the matter.

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