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The Ministry of Local Government has suspended a multi-million Pula tender that was awarded by Gaborone City Council to install new electric lights across the City and has appointed a Commission of Enquiry to investigate circumstances surrounding the tender.
The ministry became suspicious after it emerged that the contract will run for 15 years. The contract awarded to a company called Acute Engineering (Pty) Ltd has caused a lot of unease at the city Council, parliament and the Ministry of Local Government. Minister of Local Government & Rural Development, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi confirmed to Sunday Standard that she was at an advanced stage of appointing the Commissioners. “As political head of this Ministry I am concerned about value for money,” said Venson-Moitoi. “Are we getting value for money? That has to be proved,” added.
She said given the duration of the contract [15 years] Botswana Government will also want to establish the skills that will be imparted and jobs created for Batswana during the duration of the contract.
Sunday Standard has established that the City Council has failed to account why a contractor with questionable capacity was awarded the tender. This emerged after Councilors together with members of the public complained that the City was getting darker with fewer street lights working.
Former Mayor who is now Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has also previously raised issues with the contract. His questions and follow ups in parliament led the ministry to start probing.
“Has it ever happened that a contract runs for 15 years? There is something wrong. 15 years is too much,” said Nkaigwa when approached by Sunday Standard.
Nkaigwa pointed out that the contractor has no capacity and is using equipment from contractors that were overlooked during the tendering process.
When answering a question from Parliament, the minister had said she too was concerned about other aspects of the contract.
“….Though procurement was done through an open tender, the duration of the contract has also drawn my attention and I have directed my officials to examine the contract.”
This week the Minister said she and her officials were busy setting up a Commission of Enquiry.
The contactor it turns out has already received part down payment running into millions.
Some councilors are also unhappy that some of the officers from the contract are too close to other councilors.
This has resulted with some councilors receiving campaign money to use in the recent primary election season.
“This tender was not awarded properly,” said Councilor for Sebele Ward, Lesego Mabego.
He said he also wants the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime to be part of the investigations.