Thursday, March 4, 2021

By Khonani Ontebetse The Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKA) has been described as a vanity project by the International Air Transport Ass

The Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKA) has been described as a vanity project by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association for the world’s airlines.
IATA represents about 240 airlines or 84 per cent of total air traffic across the globe.
In a special report titled ‘Unlocking Africa’s Potential’, IATA states that the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport is widely perceived as a vanity project because of its scale and opulence compared with the size and nature of the market it seeks to serve.
Chinese construction company-Sinohydro was contracted to build a state of the art terminal and expand the airport’s runway in compliance with IATA standards. At the time, the government’s plan was for the airport to accommodate more passengers especially towards the World Cup days in 2010.
Following a fast-track tender system, Sinohydro was given from June 10, 2008 to May 11, 2010 to complete the expansion of the P433-million project. But the completion of the project was halted as the Ministry of Works and Transport led Minister Johnnie Swartz terminated Sinohydro’s contract in July 2011 as there had been major faults identified in the project and failure to meet the targeted deadline despite several extensions.
Reports indicate that at the time of termination of the contract, Sinohydro had completed approximately 90 percent of the project and had been paid about P527 million.
Recently the accounting officer in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Permanent Secretary, Dikagiso Mokotedi told the Public Accounts Committee that Government’s rushed tendering process for the expansion of the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKI) is the major factor leading to poor management of the project and its subsequent delays.
He revealed that the project was started even before the design was complete in a rush to finish it before the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
By the time the contract was terminated, about 90 percent of the work was complete.
“On the face value it looked like about 80 to 90 percent of the project was done but we later realized that the first phase was poorly done. On the second phase, we kept reminding the contactor to fix some things,” Mokotedi told the committee.
Mokotedi is also quoted as saying that the airport project which at the time was earmarked to be refurbished and expanded from 2008 and be completed by May 2010 just before the soccer World Cup in South Africa was done in a rush leaving many loopholes in the project. He said by the time the project actually began, there was no clear budget for it hence figures kept changing and increasing.
The IATA reports also states that “… the timing of the construction of the new infrastructure must be correct to ensure that the burden of payment on the consumer is not imposed prematurely.”┬á
Also described as vanity projects are South Africa’s King Shaka International Airport and the new Sikhuphe international airport of Swaziland.

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