Govt to engage private sector in maintenance project
by NGONIDZASHE DZIMIRI
Fears that had clouded the construction industry that government no longer require private sector services have been cleared with the government assuring them that their help is considered necessary.
The private sector has been jittery over government delays in using the allocated funds for maintenance work, as well as the involvement of Brigades and the Construction Inter Training Fund (CITF) in doing maintenance work leaving them in the cold.
“We will engage the private sector in our maintenance projects at the same time we want Batswana contractors to be involved,” said Kagiso Mokotedi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology. Batswana contractors are set to be involved much in the maintenance work of government projects.
The private sector will be required in the preparation of performance standards and contracts to enable rapid progression with facilities management work in the form of condition inspections, cyclic maintenance, rehabilitation of prematurely dilapidated structures and refurbishments of old structures that are no longer cost efficiently maintainable or are scheduled for change of use.
Mokotedi confirmed that government has not started to spend the budgeted money for maintenance work and that no maintenance work tenders have been issued out so far.
“It is true that we haven’t issued out tenders; we are not going to rush into maintenance work instead we are in the process of thoroughly correcting blunders in our projects and evaluating on what needs to be done at what costs,” said Mokotedi.
He said maintenance work is not a straight forward issue.
“We now need people with requisite skills and expertise to do the maintenance work,” he said. He cited examples of the blunders the ministry is faced with of Shakawe Senior Secondary School and stadiums as being a result of doing work in a rush.
“We don’t want the construction industry to collapse at the same time we want to be vigilant,” he said. He said the construction industry is not where it is supposed to be hence the desire for a turnaround in the industry.
Mokotedi said the construction industry is fluid and anybody can enter into it. “This is a fundamental problem which comes with undesirable outcomes,” he said.
Mokotedi acknowledged that blunders that have been witnessed in infrastructure development are as a result of corruption that has mushroomed in both government and private sector. “Where there are no rules we have corrupt engineers, architects, artisans,” he said.
He added that reflection on the construction industry is needed, to be at a level that is required internationally. “We cannot utterly blame the Chinese contractors for poorly done projects; even our own Batswana contractors are doing a shoddy job,” he said.