The Construction Industry (CI) in Botswana is in shambles and muddles; it is nose diving to a serious crush and these are desperate times that need drastic measures, said Chris Gofhamodimo, President of Tshipidi Badiri Builders Association (TBBA).
The collapse of the industry has been witnessed over the years and attributed to many factors, chief among them being the acute shortage of jobs in the industry, poor project planning and implementation by Government, poor packaging and distribution of projects, limited private sector participation, domination and unfair competition by foreign contractors, and the proliferation of corruption and nepotism.
It is against this backdrop that construction companies have closed and are closing shop, losing their assets due to foreclosures by financiers and people are losing jobs.
“About 90 percent of Citizen Contractors who used to be very active and competitive in the industry have now collapsed and died, and the remaining 10 percent is ailing and struggling to keep their heads above the water,” said Gofhamodimo, adding, “The sad part is that the citizens of this country are the hardest as the international companies enjoy and repatriate huge profits.”
Gofhamodimo warned that if something is not done fast, like introducing a stimulus package as suggested by BOCCIM President Alex Monchusi, total collapse of the sector and the annihilation of The Citizen Contractor will be witnessed.
The construction sector is one part of the economy that has been the largest employer.
“With the stimulus package, as prescribed by BOCCIM, we can see some dramatic changes and life back in the industry,” he said.
Gofhamodimo refuted allegations that the influx of the Chinese Contractors has led to the collapse of some of the Citizen Contractors among other factors, saying he will not put the blame on them at all.
“The Chinese are here for business and if it is handed to them on a silver platter, why blame them for the opportunity grabbed,” he said.
“The entire blame lies with the system here, where the Government discredited Citizen Contractors in order to favour and submit to the Chinese and has failed, dismally failed to empower its citizenry to ensure that the economy of the country is in its rightful hands,” he said.
He bemoaned the poor state of some of the facilities that are newly completed saying it is worrying to TBBA.
“We strongly condemn with the strongest possible terms, be it Citizen Contractors or Foreign Contractors who defraud Government by colluding with government officials and consultants resulting in these poorly executed projects,” he said.
He applauded the Minister Johnnie Swartz for repeatedly standing up and publicly admitting the mess his ministry and department (DBES) has gotten itself into. Swartz has admitted that the industry “is riddled with unethical behaviour and corruption, and that “this poor workmanship is mainly caused by poor supervision by both DBES Project Managers and engaged consultants, and this has led to premature dilapidation of government buildings. He cited Dibete Police Station as an example.
He urged the contractors in the industry not to entirely depend on government, but rather explore other avenues that could resuscitate the industry.
“The industry is collapsing, we need to all stand up as players and participate in its resuscitation and betterment,” he said.