Francistown councillors have slammed an update from the city mayor, Sylvia Muzila on the progress of the Francistown Tonota Road saying that it could be misleading.
Briefing a full council meeting on Monday, Muzila had indicated in her speech that the long awaited road is at 65.9 percent completion against the supposed 69.1 percent due to a few challenges that she could not detail. She said the road is expected to be complete on the 8th of November 2015.
Muzila also said that the final design of the Thapama interchange which is part of the project was approved on the 5th of January 2015 and the tender for construction was awarded to China Railways Seventh Group at a cost of P122 million. She said the project is expected to be complete in 18 months.
First to raise his concern, was former mayor and specially nominated councillor James Kgalajwe who said the update on the Tonota Francistown road progress does not corroborate what he has seen on the ground.
“I still have doubts on what has been said about the progress of the road because I have been there on the ground and it is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. I do not believe the 65.9 percent progress as mentioned in the speech. I also do not think the set deadline of November 2015 will be met,” said Kgalajwe.
Another councillor for Philip Matante East, Shadreck Nyeku also dismissed the update and raised doubt over credibility of the progress report. He further expressed concern over government projects that never complete on time.
“The Tonota-Fancistown road project began on the 17th of October 2012 and was supposed to be complete on 17th of October 2015, now we are told that it will finish on 8 November 2015. Which is which? I still doubt if it will meet the said deadline,” said Nyeku.
Nyeku warned that the road could become a disappointment just like the Francistown stadium which is still not complete after five years. He slammed the government for awarding projects to Chinese contractors despite the fact that they have failed many projects in the country.
“What really shocks me is that our government is fond of Chinese contractors despite the fact that most of them are failing government projects. One other disturbing trend by our government is that it does not scrutinise these contractors. This leads to cost overruns. Look at what is happening with the Francistown stadium,” said a clearly disappointed Nyeku.
“The Francistown stadium was supposed to be complete in 2010. We were told that there is a possibility that some teams during the 2010 Fifa World Cup hosted by South Africa would possibly use the stadium for training but that never happened as the stadium failed to complete.┬á Last year, after four years another World Cup passed and the stadium was still not complete. We are not even sure that the stadium will be complete this year as promised,” he said.
He said that when he was still Francistown Mayor he once asked the then Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Johnny Swartz if they really scrutinised the company which began construction at the Francistown stadium and he gave a negative answer.
“His answer was that they never scrutinized the contractor. I was shocked by the Minister’s response. How can you award a project of that magnitude to a contractor without even scrutinising him?” asked a baffled Nyeku.
However, the officers from the Ministry of Roads and Transport and the contractors are expected to brief Full Council meeting on the progress of the Tonota-Francistown road during the course of the week.