Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Kazungula Bridge financier wants it completed on time and on budget

Determined to not have the Kazungula Bridge turn into another Morupule B Power Project, the African Development Bank (AfDB), which is sponsoring both projects, has taken measures to ensure that the Kazungula Bridge project is not befallen by problems similar to those of Morupule B.

Through the Kazungula Bridge Project Office that has been opened in Kasane, the AfDB is seeking consultants to provide financial audit and technical audit services for the project. The consultants will carry out independent technical audits on the implementation of the bridge itself, approach ramps as well the one-stop border facilities in both Botswana and Zambia. In carrying out such exercise, the consultants shall “assure high quality, good value and compliance to the contract and its specifications, so that the project is completed on time and on budget.”

The latter expresses the opposite of what happened with the ill-fated Morupule B Power station which is now way over budget and prone to faults that occur periodically. However, the Bank may have anticipated this because in the executive summary of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, it described Morupule B as “a large-scale coal power project for Botswana, which has no prior experience in financing and managing such a project, especially in a time of crisis.”

Although the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) refuted the allegations, sources have told Sunday Standard that the project was not ready when commissioned.

The sources said that for a project of this nature to be commissioned it needed to meet at least 95 percent of specification output. At the time of the commissioning, Morupule B was said to fall well below this threshold as it was at only 50 percent. While there may be quibbling over the figures, one fact on the ground is that the project has failed and is increasingly costly for the government. Consultants for the Kazungula Bridge will be required to “Compare progress of financial disbursements against physical progress” as well as “prepare a risk management framework including the mitigation measures.”

The Kasane office is manned by officers from the Botswana Transport Hub and the Zambian Road Development Agency.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper