Thursday, September 24, 2020

Council blunder mars road project

The failed Construction and maintenance of the Kanye internal road, which should have been completed three years ago, has now moved from the construction site to the arbitration boardroom following alleged blunders by the Southern District Council officials who are holding back the project.

According to documents leaked by unhappy council officials, everything that could go wrong with the project is actually going wrong: The contract resident engineer for the project that was planned to run for four months only showed up at the site a month after the project was due to have commenced; contractors who were commissioned to construct and maintain the road were allegedly only given design plans and coordinates well past the due date for the completion of the project, the few drawings that were passed on to the contractors allegedly proved to be wrong and inadequate. A memo compiled by the Senior Council attorney and the senior quantity surveyor and addressed to the council secretary revealed that contractors could not carry out the planned road expansion and build the drainage because the construction would encroach on people’s yards, and there was no adequate space to expand. The wrong drawings did not show the residential plots which stood in the way of the planned expansion.

“The initial drawings that the contractor was given were incompatible with what was on the ground,” stated the letter from council experts to the Council Secretary, Kaiser Mpedi. The letter further observed that there were also “BPC poles along the construction site which needed to be removed or shifted.” The delays affected the contractors’ cash flow and hampered their capacity to go through with the project.

Indications are that when council officials and project managers ÔÇô Group Consult – realized their blunder, they started engineering a cover up and get away strategy which they called the Project Management Approach. In September 2005, when the project should have been completed, the council got the contractors to sign the Project Management Approach agreement. According to the agreement, the council was to advance the contractors part of the money to construct and maintain the road. A letter from the project engineers, Group Consult Botswana, suggests that the council reneged on the agreement. The letter states in part, that failure of the council to “assist the contractors with hard cash as recommended has resulted in the contractors remaining in the position as they were prior to the introduction of the project management approach.”

A memo from the council senior attorney and quantity surveyor, dated September 2006, addressed to the Council Secretary states that “failure by the council to abide by the project management provisions affected delivery by the contractor in that he had to abandon the programme he had made under the agreement of one monthly works programme and payment and now had to perform on an ad hoc basis with no resources which could not sustain progress as envisaged.”

The troubled project is expected to collapse under huge cost overruns as contractors are demanding millions in compensation for loss of business. The dispute between the contractors and the council is still a subject of arbitration before Mr A.G. Flanagan.

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