The Ministry of Transport and Communications says the government has allayed fears over the Spaghetti or interchange junction in Francistown. Speculation has been rife among the residents of Francistown and on social media that the project ÔÇô the first of its kind in Botswana, has been abandoned by government due to shortage of land and space.
These suspicions were also worsened by the fact that the contractor, China Railways Seventh Group has since removed the board that used to depict the model of the interchange at the construction site.
Spaghetti or interchange is a road junction which typically uses grade separation and one or more ramps to permit traffic on at least one highway to pass through the junction without directly affecting any other traffic stream.
However responding to the Sunday Standard questionnaire on Friday, the Communications Manager in the Ministry of Roads and Communications, Doreen Moapare said allegations that the plans to build the Spaghetti type of junction have been abandoned are not true.
“Roads department is executing the initial plan and there are no changes whatsoever. We acquired 43 plots from Somerset East and compensated the residential plots owners as well as acquiring new plots for them at Gerald Estates and they have all moved to their new plots. We have acquired six commercial plots and have all been compensated and have moved to create working space for construction,” Moapare said.
On why the board depicting the model of the junction was removed at the site, she said it was mainly removed from site last year because the model was too small and not visible from a distance. She said that roads department is in the process of procuring a bigger model that will be placed at a strategic center in the city and for appreciation by the general public. Asked on the current progress of the spaghetti project she said it currently stands at 46.6 percent against the planned 80.6 percent.
“We are currently reviewing the construction program which should reflect how the contractor will recover lost time. Like any other construction site, the progress has been impeded by unforeseen challenges emanating from among others removal of underground services, prolonged negotiations in acquiring land on residential and commercial properties needed for construction and supply of materials from foreign countries,” she said.
Asked on the construction progress of the 30 km Tonota-Francistown road, Moapare said the end of the contract period for the road works on the Tonota-Francistown road was on the 19th March 2016 and progress is currently at 99.3 percent achieved against planned progress. She explained that what remains is ancillary works such as curbing and paving, road marking on access roads, installation of street lights and traffic lights. She added that they anticipate the project to be handed over by end of August 2016.
“Despite delays in the project, the Tonota ÔÇô Francistown road and interchange project is still within its budget of P979, 995, 312,” she concluded.
The upgrade of the Tonota ÔÇô Francistown road project which began in October 2012 was expected to take a duration of 36 months. The reconstruction and upgrading of the 30 km road includes the upgrading of the existing road infrastructure into a dual carriage way, upgrading of bridges and access roads along these roads.