Thursday, October 28, 2021

Francistown councillors divided over P40 million fuel levy funds

Francistown city councillors last week scrambled over the P40 million funds from the fuel levy which was injected into the city council by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to try and revamp internal roads which were destroyed by floods last year in the city.

The funds are to be used mainly for the maintenance of these roads, resealing and reconstruction of some sections of the roads, pothole patching and construction of storm water drainages.
Despite construction and commissioning of the new interchange or “Spaghetti” as it is commonly known, Francistown internal roads are currently dilapidated and tattered with potholes causing traffic jams in the second city.

Responding to the P40 million budget report from the Deputy Town Clerk Thato Obakeng during a Special Full Council meeting last week, some of the councilors said that the funds should be equally divided among wards as there was a trend where other wards where left behind in developments.

Presneting his report the Deputy Clerk had said that initially the city council had pleaded for P100 million to revamp the roads but was only given P40 million by the Ministry. He had indicated that since the money was not enough as per their initial proposed budget, priority would be given to other road projects.

“Most of our internal roads in the city were destroyed by the floods last year. The ministry took a decision and asked the city council to assess the damages and it amounted to P100 million. Therefore the Ministry said it could only afford to fund us with P40 million. We had to prioritize roads which needed to be attended to the most. We looked at among others, roads that are mostly used and those that posed hazards to road users. We have decided that the funds will be used for asphalt overlay, resealing, reconstruction, pothole patching and storm drainages among some of the roads,” he said
Obakeng said that tender documents have already been prepared and the projects should begin in 2018 to 2019.

First to respond was special elected BDP councilor Peter Ngoma, who said that while they appreciate that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development heeded their call to finally fund these road projects, there was need for the funds to be shared equally among wards.He said there were disturbing trends where funds were not allocated fairly to cover all wards.

“There are 19 wards in Francistown. This time we want the funds to be shared equally among those wards because as councilors we represent people. If such is not done like in the past, it will portray the councilors in a bad light to members of their communities,” he said.

Ngoma’s view was supported by Tuelo Zazambi another BDP special elected councilor. The youthful councilor further said there should be clarification on what materials should be used in the projects as some of the contractors use substandard materials which do not stand the test of time.

“I agree with Ngoma that the money has to be shared equally among wards because all councilors here have challenges in their wards. Sadly this report also did not indicate what materials will be used in these projects but such is very important. We have to keep a vigilant eye on what kined of materials the contractors are using,” he said.

Zazambi also said that it was high time for a by-pass road in Francistown to be constructed to reduce the flow of traffic into the city.

However BCP Councilor, Ben Mpotokwane differed with the councilors saying that although he understands the concerns raised by the councilors, it was not viable that P40 million could be shared equally by all the 19 wards in Francistown more so that it is below budget.

“We had expected P100 million, but sadly we were only given P40 million which is not enough. I think priority should be given to road projects that are in dire need for maintenance and reconstruction especially those that carry the highest volume of traffic as presented by the deputy city clerk. To construct a road is very expensive and P40 million would not cover all of these wards,” he added.
Another BDP councilor, Tumedi also agreed with Mpotokwane that P40 million could not be shared by all the 19 wards in Francistown. He also said priority should be given to the most damaged roads for the projects to be successful.

After a long debate, they agreed that the funds be directed towards road projects that needed them the most. They also pleaded with the Deputy Clerk to engage them further into making sure that the projects become a success and are of good quality.

In his final word, the Deputy Clerk said he will continue to engage councilors on the projects and said that there was already a by-pass road that is due for construction from Shashe through Borolong village to Mathangwane. He said the road will reduce the volume of traffic passing through Francistown.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper