Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Billion pula roads management project on the cards

The Department of Roads has an ambitious P1.7 billion plan for next year, a new method of managing roads to develop the road infrastructure and boost the road transport sector in the country.

The Director of the Department, Kabo Kote, has indicated that the project, which is expected to preserve roads, will extend the role of the private sector beyond execution, to include management of roads.

“It will be a leeway for the contractors to independently define, what to do, where to do it, how to do it and when to do it with minimal restriction. There will be incentives for the contractor to innovate and minimise costs, and payment will be based on output and performance.”

Kote said the Output and Performance based Road Contracts (OPRC), which is what the new pilot project will come to be known as, will make it necessary for the contracting entities to have management capacity to carry out road works on timely basis.

“This is expected to ensure that roads infrastructure remain above the agreed service quality levels and minimise repetitive procurement and in-house costs. He noted that it will also shift associated risks from government to the private sector,” he said.

The first contracts are expected to take 10 years, and will cover approximately 820km of roads in Southern District, South East District and parts of Kweneng. He noted that government will enforce contracts by verifying output and compliance with expected performance and periodic payments will only be made for services that comply with quality levels. He said contractors should also note that with OPRC, it is possible that during some months they will have to carry out a large amount of physical works in order to comply with the required levels of service. He said yet their periodic payments could remain the same as long as the required service levels are complied with.
He expressed confidence that OPRC will minimise the premature deterioration of roads infrastructure in the country and added that this will improve road safety and increase efficiency of road operations.

The Director said a similar approach of road asset management is used in more economically advanced countries, among them United States of America, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

Planning and conceptual design for the planned OPRC is on-going and is expected to be complete before the end of this year.

OPRC is part of the Botswana Integrated Transport Project (BITP), which is intended to enhance the efficiency of the transport sector and achieve regional integration and economic competitiveness. Funding for BITP, estimated at P2.7 billion, is expected to be partly financed by the World Bank.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.