Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Government won’t recover millions lost in the construction of Serowe stadium

Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Shaw Kgathi this week absolved the company that was involved in the construction of Serowe stadium from any wrong doing, saying that the stadium’s disintegration before it was even used is a result of peculiar soil properties. He also laid the blame on communication breakdown between officers involved in the planning and the implementation phase of the project.

The multi- million pula Serowe stadium revealed glaring cracks immediately after its completion in 2001.
While many pointed accusing fingers at the corrupt construction industry, Kgathi insists that there was no foul play.

When answering a question from Chobe Member of Parliament, Gibson Nshimwe on Wednesday, Kgathi said that government has not taken any steps to recover its money as no one was found to be in the wrong.

“No one has been held culpable for the loss of tax payers’ funds because we could not find evidence of deliberate negligence or lack of due diligence on anyone’s part” he said.

Kgathi revealed that prior to construction of the stadium, site investigations were carried out by the Consulting and Structural Engineers (Newton McDonald and Associates (Pty) Ltd and at least three independent expert opinions were obtained.
“These investigations resulted, inter alia, in two geotechnical reports dated January 1998 and February 1999. On 5th March 1999, Newton McDonald and Associates submitted their recommendations regarding the foundations designs based on geotechnical reports” he said.

The civil/structural consultants finalized their designs based on the input from the geotechnical reports and advised the contractor with regard to implementation of the project on site. The project commenced in 1999 and was handed over in September 2001.

In 2005, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research was engaged and produced a technical audit report which revealed that the problems that manifested themselves on site were largely attributable to poor soil conditions, weather conditions (prior to and during construction), possible short comings in the sharing of information between professional disciplines in the department and between these disciplines and their consultants among others.

In July 2007 a joint inspection survey of Serowe stadium was carried out to ascertain the extent of existing defects and arrive at an estimated cost of making good these defects. The inspection put the cost refurbishment at P17 029 154.45 with annual maintenance estimate of 25 % of the above figure. The inspection concluded that while remedial work could be carried out there will always be need to attend to new defects annually depending on weather conditions in the area.

“In this connection it was resolved that the facility should be relocated as it would not have been cost effective to refurbish it in the long run,” Kgathi concluded.

Against this backdrop, government could not take any steps to recover the loss but instead decided to give effect to lessons learnt from the construction of Serowe sport complex. Besides avoiding sites that have peculiar soil properties which might lead to costly undertakings, government will in future promote close liaison between the various departments involved in the planning and implementation stages, and also institute a multi-disciplinary team responsible for implementation and monitoring.

Shoddy delivery of government projects has of late been a major concern. The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Johnny Swartz recently complained that very few government projects are completed within time.

“If they do, then the quality of the end product leaves a lot to be desired. Statistics from Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime show that the construction industry is one of the most corrupt,” he said.

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