Monday, October 19, 2020

Francistown-Tonota highway contractor requests for extension

China Railways Seventh Group, the Chinese that has been engaged to construct the Francistown-Tonota highway has applied for extension of time to finish the project.

This was revealed by Mayoress of Francistown, Sylvia Muzila during a full council meeting last week. According to Muzila progress on the upgrade of the Tonota-Francistown road currently stands at 96.5 percent against the planned 100 percent, whilst the expenditure stands at P572, 907, 516.03 against the total budget of P979, 995, 312.38.

“The contractor has applied for extension of time and it’s still being considered. On the Thapama Interchange, the project is at 31.4 percent physical status against the planned 51.9 percent and the anticipated completion date is still 2nd August 2016,” she said.

During the tour of the project last month by Minister of Transport and Communication, Tshenolo Mabeo the contractor said relocation of services was the main cause for the delay.

Once complete, the upgrade of the Tonota-Francistown road and the construction of the Thapama Interchange Junction will ease traffic congestion in Francistown and give the second city a facelift. Government is expected to inject over P1 billion in the whole project.

Muzila further said internal works are already underway by way of revamping internal roads, street lighting and road markings.

What is already visible is the dual road from the Interchange to Nyangabgwe Hospital and there will soon be tar markings of the internal by pass within Somerset Location in Francistown.

“Although the congestion has not decreased, I still plead with the community to exercise more patience until the project is successfully delivered in both aspects. All in all the 2nd of February 2016 is not far. By the time we celebrate our golden Jubilee the city will be showing vibrancy in this particular area,” she said.

On maintenance of roads in the city, Muzila said during this current financial year, seven projects were outsourced for maintenance. The projects include among others patching of potholes, construction of storm water drainage at China Town and Area G locations, Kerbstone installation and shoulder repair at Gerald Estates and Bluetown.

“Of late, the city council has been patching pot holes in some of the roads in the city and this does not last especially during the rainy season as the existing roads do not have associated storm water drainage,” said Muzila.

 She explained that the roads need resealing or in some cases complete re-construction. She however said it is unfortunate that these projects are capital intensive projects which require a lot of money, adding that the city council is financially constrained. She also added that it is important that during finalization of the UDP 4, these projects should be given priority including the Francistown Storm Water Drainage Master Plan. Touching on the ongoing construction of Gerald Estates Junior Secondary School, she said the project is divided in two phases. Phase I includes construction of the school itself with five blocks of flats and two LA3 Houses, while Phase II comprises of 16 staff housing units at Gerald.

“Phase 1; the project’s contract sum is P118, 369, 937.28. Physical progress is at 72 percent completion stage with total expenditure of P62, 780, 253.59 and the completion date has been extended to 17 June 2016. As for Phase 2, the project is at a cost of P15, 514, 431.52. So far the contractor has been paid P5, 363, 425.83. I wish to point out that the project is behind schedule; once again the contractor has requested to extend the hand over date to 30th March 2016. The original completion date of the project was 13th July 2015. The request is still under consideration,” she said.

Among other important issues, the mayoress said the maintenance of street lights in the city has not improved because of shortage of equipment, constant breakdown of cherry pickers, vandalism and theft. She said the critical areas that were affected are Ntshe, the bridges in town and the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) lines. She however said the Finance Committee has approved an amount of P835 000 000 to procure a cherry picker following advices from the last full council sitting.

“Tender is at evaluation stage and should have been awarded by the end of the first week of March 2016. Meanwhile, the streetlights maintenance is continuing with assistance from the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services (DBES) and Sowa Town Council,” she said.

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