Saturday, July 4, 2020

Lies roil water tender debate

The line between truth and lies has become so murky in the debate over the award of the P781 million tender to Khato Civils that opponents of the project have now resorted to paltering.

The debate has entered the strategy of misleading by “telling the truth” which has become so pervasive in politics that psychologists have coined a term for it: paltering.

The narrative currently being paltered is that Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) put the cart before the horse by awarding the P 781 million water tender two months before cabinet approval.

The purveyors of paltering point out that while Cabinet was still debating the 100 km long transmission pipeline project at Masama well fields, a tender for the project at a cost of  BWP 781 555 356.90 had already been awarded to Khato Civil.

The truth however is that although WUC adjudication Committee made a provisional award of the tender to Khato Civils on May 10 “subject to availability of funds”, the company was not appointed pending the decision of Cabinet on a funding proposal submitted by the parastatal.

Responding to The Sunday Standard queries, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land  Management, Water and Sanitation Services Bonolo Khumotaka confirmed that the funding proposal for the design and construction of 100 km transmission pipeline and associated works from Masana wellfields to Mmamashia water treatment plant was approved by Cabinet on 3rd July, two months after a provisional award was made to Khato Civils.

“Khumotaka said the project procurement was administered through open public tender. A provisional award of BWP 781 555 356.90 has been made to the lowest bidder pending approval of funding,” she said.

Khato civil was however only appointed to carry out the project late July after Cabinet had approved the WUC funding proposal.

Khumotaka said her Ministry considered the 100km pipeline for optimal use of Masama wellfields to minimize the water shortage in the Greater Gaborone area.

“The reprioritization of the NDP 11 project, together with budget is to utilize funds which were initially allocated for the Lobatse Water Master plan to construct the 100km Masama pipeline. It is worth noting that the Lobatse Water Master plan is reliant on the successful completion of either the NSC 2 or the Masama pipeline,” she said.

Khumotaka defended the decision to divert funds away from the Lobatse Water Master Plan saying “Government planning process provides flexibility at interim stages for projects re-prioritisation based on temporal exigencies.” “Taking into consideration the growing water challenges in the greater Gaborone, an immediate solution is required. Masama pipeline is practically the fastest to implement,” she said.

She added: “The utilization of the water from the Masama and Makhujwane wellfields was conceptualized in the 2006 NWMPR (National Water Master Plan)”, the water was planned to be utilized in the event Gaborone Dam water levels fall below 25% of capacity, this can no longer be the case as there has been increased water demand in Gaborone and greater Gaborone, resulting in water challenges around the Greater Gaborone area.”

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.