The long awaited multipurpose stadium that is currently still under construction in the City of Francistown is still dragging behind schedule despite the projection that it should be complete by July this year.
During the Francistown City Council (FCC) and media tour on Monday it emerged that the shortage of skilled labour in the country and the building defects of the VIP shelter at the stadium had a negative impact on the completion of the project.
The Resident Engineer of the project, Douglas Kamedza, revealed to the Sunday Standard in an interview that although the project is about 85 percent complete, he cannot be certain as to when the other 15 percent will be completed.
“Due to the errors of construction on the roof level of the VIP section, I cannot be certain on when the stadium is due to be completed,” he maintained.
Kamedza said that the project was also affected by the shortage of materials, which then negated the projected completion time.
He indicated that the problem with the VIP shelter is that while the construction was on going, it was realized that the shelter has many defects, which include construction with regard to the roof, which is said to distract the viewers or broadcasters during the games.
He pointed out that upon realizing that the roof had a problem they decided to suspend the project and made some proposals to the contractor to see how they could resolve the problem.
“The other issue that has been a challenge is the barrier of communication between the employees and the top management who mainly are the Chinese,” he said.
The stadium is expected to hold a capacity of up to 27 000 people once it is completed and the cost of the stadium is estimated at a whooping P175 million.
During the last visit by the then Minister of Youth, Sports and culture, Gladys Kokorwe, the project’s resident engineer, Mr Mukedza, indicated that the contractors were still experiencing skilled manpower shortages, but now he pointed out that the main challenge remains the rectification of the construction of the VIP building which needs to be corrected.
However the Construction Manager, Hao Shipeng, also told Sunday Standard that he is still very optimistic that the project will finish in at least 12 weeks from now as they have embarked on speeding up the process. He added that even though they have faced a lot of criticism from some individuals about the quality of the stadium, the contractors believe much in quality services and gave the example of the newly built Oodi Technical College and the recent college in Maun that is yet to be handed over. He pointed out that all those facilities were all constructed by the same contractor.
“We believe that as a construction company we cannot compromise quality for anything,” he said.
He added that although they are behind the expected completion schedule, they are currently on good progress as they are now preparing put finishing touches on the ground by planting the lawn.
The Deputy Mayor of Francistown, Stanley Masalila, who was also among the FCC delegation, took issue with some of the Chinese contractors, saying that the reason why they have lack of skilled manpower at times is because they do not pay competitive salaries to employees. He said that the contractor was losing valuable manpower to employers who pay better salaries and incentives.
“I believe that this is the reason why it is always difficult for the Chinese companies to source skilled manpower,” he asserted.
The tour was complemented by the visit to the new Francistown Airport under construction, which the FCC hailed as progressing well.