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Pipe Project Holds Great Promise
​Cutting edge: Students and contractors watch a demonstration of a new form of trenchless pipe replacement technology
Scores of emerging local contractors, design consultants and university students braved the blazing sun to witness the demonstration of a new form of trenchless technology used to replace burst-prone asbestos-cement pipes in Pinetown and Westville recently. Councillor Visvin Reddy, who chairs the Infrastructure and Procurement Committee, said the technology would be used in congested areas like Pinetown and the Durban central business district. “Digging can cause disruption and road congestion.
 
The new process keeps these to a minimum because the only digging required is for a launch and connection pit,” said Reddy. A pilot project to use the new technology was funded by the Dutch government. It includes funding for students and emerging contractors. “In a country like South Africa the benefits of trenchless technology must be carefully weighed against the need to create jobs and develop communities,” said Reddy. The close-fit lining technique involves inserting a compact pipe or sleeve into an existing pipe. Once in position the compact pipe or sleeve is steam heated. This causes it to expand, filling the old pipe with a new structural interior lining. The compact pipe has an estimated 50 year lifespan.
 
‘First’
Alan Kee, eThekwini’s Asbestos Cement Pipe Replacement Project Executive, said the technology has not been used before on water pipe replacement in Africa. “We hope that as many people as possible will benefit from seeing this progressive technology at work,” said Kee. He said BSc and MSc students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal are doing a 24-months feasibility study as part of a drive by eThekwini to provide the best possible service at the lowest possible cost.
 
Contractor Aurecon’s Lead Project Manager Evan Smith, said the feasibility study and  on-site training were vital parts of the pilot project. “The study will provide a cost-benefit analysis of trenchless technology compared with more traditional methods. The onsite training will enable established and emerging contractors to have first-hand access to this innovation,” Smith said. The process is quick and the excavations cause much less inconvenience in busy areas. “While eThekwini is community focused and committed to job creation, it is important to use innovative methods in appropriate areas,” said Kee.
 
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