The Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is facing a number of challenges that retard its ability to successfully roll out the Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) turnkey programme. This was revealed by BHC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Reginald Motswaiso last week at the handing over ceremony of SHHA turnkey houses in Moreomabele.
In 2012, government consolidated all its housing programmes, including SHHA turnkey projects, and set up BHC as a Single Housing Authority (SiHA). However, Motswaiso said last week that BHC has had difficulties in implementing the turn key programme, which has led to delays in delivery.
“During the initial stages we realized that some beneficiaries could not be traced as they we supposedly deceased while others had sold their plots. This caused delays in starting some projects as council authorities had to identify other beneficiaries through lengthy processes that involved vetting of applicants,” he said.
The second challenge involves clearing of plots as is the requirement before construction could start. Motswaiso said some beneficiaries take time to clear their plots to make way for construction, which often results in unnecessary delays. Other beneficiaries are unable to secure water connections and provide storage facilities for materials, while others insist on their preferred taste in construction materials.
“This contributes to delays because the contractor will be forced to halt construction while the issue is being resolved. It also became apparent during construction of the first batch of houses that some of the contractors had poor management skills which affected their performance while some abandoned projects altogether citing low rates,” said Motswaiso.
This resulted in expiry of some materials, damage to roofing materials, theft and vandalism, which led to cost overruns. According to Motswaiso, BHC is building 917 houses and has to date completed and delivered a total of 200 SHHA turnkey houses while others are at various stages of completion. In some cases, contractors have refused to undertake projects in isolated villages especially where there is only one house to be constructed. Other contractors have shown limited commitment and slow pace.
“The corporation has also extended direct payment facility to suppliers in a bid to assist contractors or individual builders without financial means to purchase materials such as bricks and aggregates. Where beneficiaries are uncooperative we have engaged our counterparts from the council to assist so that progress can be made and houses delivered to them,” said Motswaiso.
To mitigate against these challenges, BHC has engaged grade B contractors on some projects and also rewarded contractors who are performing well with more projects. To minimize delays in delivery, BHC has also resolved to give contractors the responsibility of providing materials. On a positive note, Motswaiso said BHC subscribes to quality standards in construction and closely supervises the whole construction process.
“It is pleasing to note that we have not had any major concerns coming from beneficiaries. We have a six months defects liability period during which if something is found to be defective, the contractor is recalled to attend to it immediately,” he said.