Monday, October 25, 2021

GCC sneers at free pothole repair help

The Gaborone City Council is turning up its nose at a proposal by a private citizen company to patch Gaborone potholes for free.

In its effort to offer a lasting solution to the problem of potholes in Gaborone, Prophalt Botswana, a local innovative company came up with a creative pothole repair technology that provides a fast, effective and reliable solution for the city potholes crisis. The infrared pothole repair technology is the first of its kind in Botswana. Developed in the UK the mobile machine has been introduced in Botswana as a pothole repair alternative technology to conventional road and pothole repair methods.

According to Prophalt Botswana, the infrared pothole repair machine can repair a pothole in 11 minutes while it takes 2 hours for the conventional method.

The durability of repaired potholes by this new technology is reported to last 24 months, whereas the conventional method has neither durability status nor the warranty guarantee.  

Driven by its vision to revolutionize the roads maintenance industry in Botswana, Prophalt Botswana which is a 100% citizen owned company took advantage of the Local Economic Development (LED) initiative under the Ministry of Local Government by facilitating a Public, Private, Partnership initiative  named “Patch Gabs” with Gaborone City Council on the 06th December 2016. During a launch of the “Patch Gabs” a live demonstration was carried out at the front of the Gaborone City Council entrance gate. The event was graced by the G.C.C. technical staff, councilors and the Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Frans S. Van Der Westhuizen. In his speech the Minister expressed gratification in the “Patch Gabs” initiative and urged district councils to seize the opportunity to harness the transformative power of collaboration between the public and private sector especially on finance and skills development.           

In seeking to establish project partnership status, the Sunday Standard embarked on an inquiry mission to follow up with the Co-Director of Prophalt Botswana, Kagiso Kwelagobe. When asked about the progress in rolling out the “Patch Gabs” initiative, Kwelagobe stated that Gaborone City Council have shown interest in their public private partnership project but are taking long to give them the go ahead. Gaborone City Council has set itself a target to cover a 4,000 square meters of potholes in the 2016/17 financial year period.

Kwelagobe has expressed frustration over the time that Gaborone City Council is taking to respond. He explained that the initiative does not require any funding from Gaborone City Council as the company has managed to secure financial aid from the First National Bank.

“So how do you sit on an offer that is not only going to save you costs, but provides permanent roads repairs. We have even explained and demonstrated to the City Council how our innovative pothole and road maintenance repair mobile technology unit provides a fast, effective and reliable solution for repairing potholes and other typical road infrastructure failures.”  He further mentioned that in their project memorandum they have offered to do a 5,000 square meters of potholes in Gaborone for free.

The Co-Director of Prophalt Botswana went further to state that the stalemate between Prophalt Botswana and Gaborone City Council carries the potential to have a backlash on youth local companies, from the Private Sector as they may in future develop a perception  that initiatives such as these are not urgent and therefore not deserving to be given top priority.             

One of the LED Commisioners, Councilor Mohamed Sobhan of Government enclave ward, confirmed that it is true that there is a stalemate on the “Patch Gabs” initiative. Councilor Sobhan further expressed frustration over the attitude by the city council because “the initiative will not only save Gaborone City Council money but could put it at the frontline of other districts in the implementation of Local Economic Development drive.”

When asked what needs to be done to solve the stalemate between the Council and Prophalt Botswana, Sobhan stated that there is need for both the Mayor and Town Clerk to expedite the process of sanctioning quota of roads to Prophalt Botswana. Qualifying his statement Councilor Sobhan said “Gaborone City Council is already behind schedule of reaching its set target of pothole repairs for the 2016/2017 financial year. So there is really no reason as to why the Council should fail to approve this noble project. Failure to do so will be a great loss especially to the community of Gaborone.”

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