The Japanese government has withdrawn from financing the multi million pula Kazungula Bridge because it was not happy with the way the tender adjudication process was conducted by the government of Botswana, Chinese ambassador Masahiro Onishi told the Sunday Standard this week.
Responding to a story carried earlier by the newspaper, Onishi insisted that there was no link between the adoption of the Japanese standard of digital broadcasting and the funding of the construction of Kazungula Bridge. The newspaper had reported that the financing of the construction of Kazungula Bridge and the adoption of Japanese technology for digital migration by Botswana were part of a trade-off deal between Botswana and Japan.
“On deciding the standard of digital broadcasting in the Republic of Botswana, the government of Botswana compared ISDB-T (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting- Terrestrial) standard, which is Japanese, with DVB-T2 (Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial 2) standard which is European in detail and adopted ISDB-T because of its technological advantages. Now digital migration in Botswana is doing very well, with the support of the government of Japan, and digital broadcasting commenced before 17th June 2015 being the digital migration deadline laid down by ITU (International Telecommunications Union), he said.
Onishi told Sunday Standard that, “there is no link between the adoption of the Japanese standard of digital broadcasting and the funding of the Kazungula Bridge. The withdrawal in financing for the latter was due to certain inconsistencies in bidding procedures which left JICA no choice but to withdraw financing.”
Onishi explained that they were not happy with the way the technical evaluation and adjudication of the project was handled and were worried about the ultimate safety of the bridge, so they decided to withdraw their financing.
According to sources, the highest-scoring tender for the bridge project was from a Chinese company called China Major Bridge Engineering Corporation. However, it was reportedly passed up for the job in favour of the second-best bidderÔÇô Daewoo Engineering and Construction, a South Korean company which built the Serowe-Orapa road in the 1980s. The reason for electing Daewoo over the actual winner was due to the fact that with the experiences of Morupule B, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport and other poorly-executed mega projects, the Botswana government has lost faith in the workmanship of Chinese construction companies.
Greatly displeased with this outcome, Japan immediately withdrew its financial commitment to the Kazungula Bridge project. Through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Japan had committed to provide US$110 million of the total cost. Japan’s withdrawal opened a huge funding gap that was subsequently filled up by the African Development Bank.