Delivers 100km Masama Pipeline Project, focuses on Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant
Pan African industrialist, Simbi Phiri has shifted his focus – now with the 100km Masama/Mmamashia Water Project done and dusted; his attention is squarely on delivering another P900 million water project – Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant. As always he has not delegated; he has personally moved camp to Mmamashia to rally his workforce to deliver a high quality product timeously. Phiri is the Executive Chairman of Khato Civils – a construction company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa but with projects across the continent.
His modus operandi
On Thursday afternoon he took his time at the new operation site where construction is just starting. The temporary residential area for staff is being finalised. Work on laying the foundations – clearing and moving out previous structures is well underway. Phiri’s impatience glares as he engages workers about progress on the ground. His voice at times roars between shouting and demanding. Swift calls are made to Johannesburg -his company’s headquarters, where he demands prompt action.
He is very clear – those that prefer the comforts of Johannesburg office while delaying project progress better sign up their resignation letters and opt out; he won’t stand anyone who sits on the way of progress. “I left my family in Johannesburg to get the work done here,” he tells the site manager, urging him to shape up and be comfortable in escalating matters for quick resolution.
For a person of his age, he walks with pace across a vast area of the construction site. At the recent 100 km Mmamashia Water Pipeline he is known to have worked deep into the early hours of the next day and would walk many kilometres along the pipeline and be fully engaged with staff on the ground. It appears he never leaves anything to chance.
To him cost and quality go together. He wants his staff to quickly engage qualified service providers but at the right cost. “It won’t make sense for me to finally realise that I have been paying far more than the average price of a service because this will then ultimately harm the project as money runs out for it, forcing us to do cheap work,” he insists.
At the Mmamashia Water Treatment Project he is once more moving into setting up a night operation that will ensure that his staff work from morning well into the night. “Let’s set the flood lights to cover the whole area and ensure that we speed up work,” he tells the site manager once more.
Measures that require his intervention will be handled immediately, including engaging the contracting party, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) to assist with necessary steps for the project to advance. This is his modus operandi – while other leading owners of top companies barely have time to get their hands dirty in pushing their projects he never shies away from that – taking personal responsibility of all that his company does.
He is an intimate hands-out contractor that has time to crack jokes with workers while pushing them hard to deliver. Some take advantage of him as he joins them in the trenches to even engage him on their welfare issues. He listens; always with empathy.
The Water Treatment Plant
Phiri’s companies Khato Civils/ South Zambezi Joint Venture have been awarded the contract for the Design, Supply, Installation, Construction and Commissioning of the Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant at a value of P900 million. Time frame for the project is 36 months; but Phiri is adamant that they will be done in 20 months. They started the project in July.
The initiative aims to build and increase the capacity of the current plant to handle maximum flows which will be provided by the North South Carrier Pipelines. The Plant shall treat a maximum of 110 mega litres of raw water per day.
The project scope includes: To design, build and equip all protection required for the water treatment plant to function efficiently; critically examine the maximum water flows and associated pressures. The design shall be based on the pumping duration of 20 hours per day. The recommendation is for the flows to the plant be 1510 l/s; Maximise pumping requirements by including PS 4.1 and 4.2 running; design including calculations and drawings. Using best practice methods based on pressure/head and flow parameters, availability of pipeline materials and make appropriate materials selection inclusive of corrosion protection as necessary; The proposed scheme should withstand future pressures at the delay tower point when future Pump station (PS4.2) is in place and running; Survey and make necessary installations to all the sites (for the routes of electricity, cathodic protection and lightning protection) and produce profiles and drawings; estimate power requirements for the whole project. Apply to Botswana Power Corporation for power connection.
Phiri while assuring that the project will offer further employment for locals says the treatment plant project will have more skilled technicians involved. “The work here is more mechanical and hence will not require the same amount of personnel that we engaged in the pipeline,” he says.
100km Masama Project
He says the testing of pipeline is on-going and project handover is a matter of days away. Khato Civils was awarded the contract to construct the 100 kilometres pipeline last year and have delivered it within set time and on budget. “The Masama 100 km project is an iconic project. We showed that a black African company run by a Bantu man can deliver a project of this high quality even beating companies run by light skinned individuals. This is representative of African excellence. We say to doomsayers and haters that they should just take it easy; we are the best at what we do – we just demonstrated that,” he declares with pride.
Locally, they have started construction of company headquarters at their Mmamashia plot and are also advancing in starting the pipe manufacturing plant in Selebi-Phikwe. Other upcoming projects include those in Malawi, Ghana, South Sudan and other African countries.