Saturday, October 31, 2020

Minister Kgafela bemoans poor management, collation of govt. data

The Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development Mmusi Kgafela has expressed concern at the manner with which important data is captured by most government departments. 

Speaking during a recent visit meant to appreciate progress on projects executed by his Ministry in Maun, Kgafela said he has noted that there is a serious challenge of accountability and negligence resulting in unnecessary mistakes which could be avoided if people used modern technology. 

He pointed an accusing finger at some people in senior positions at various government departments whom he said have a serious problem of forgetfulness, hence the many errors committed. 

“Technology is so advanced that there is no need any more to rely on the brain or capacity to remember. If you use the latest technology and software you will have no valid reasons to claim forgetfulness. The old way of doing things through paperwork is so outdated and very unreliable,” he said.

 The minister further noted that there has been instances where monies mysteriously disappeared or was reported to have been lost because of poor documentation. In some instances, he said, expensive equipment has been purchased but not used while some buildings stay for years without maintenance even though funds had been availed.

Kgafela noted that while touring around the country on the same mission of inspecting projects, they learnt that some government schools such as Ghanzi senior secondary had not been maintained for decades, which therefore means the government is yet to pay dearly for them to be returned to a good state. 

“These are some of the many challenges we have in the construction industry. The unexpected coming of COVID 19 has in a way also been an opener and has taught us to do things right by our people. We have decided as a government that we will procure locally and manufacture locally because we want to sustain our economy by way of ensuring that it is in the hands of Batswana”, he said. He admitted however that although most of the projects running across the country are a success story, there are some instances where some have proved to be shoddy works, thus leading to unnecessary delays. 

He stated that while some structures are not managed by his ministry considering that ministries do own maintenance facilities, there are occurrences where requests are made by those ministries that the ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development take over and address the issue of buildings in a dilapidated state. 

Nevertheless he said it becomes too much of a challenge when they realize that the same ministries had not requested for maintenance funding, resulting in such not being included during budget allocation. Where possible and funds permitting, he said they will continue engaging the private sector and allocate works to Batswana owned contractors despite the realization that where government is involved, the same contractors deliberately inflate prices

He added: “We have foreign contractors who are determined as some of them are best builders. Our wish is for our local contractors to work well with them and learn. In the near future we will have to unbundle projects so that both local and foreign owned companies benefit. I must assure you that we are doing our best and in good faith. You are our checks and balances, and so if you see any inefficiencies kindly let us know”, said Minister Kgafela. 

Earlier during his briefing of the minister’s entourage, North West District Council chairman Kebareeditse Ntsogotho lamented that the District Health Management Team (DHMT) staff houses are still not occupied even though they were supposed to have been handed over to the Ministry of Health in 2017.Construction of these houses is said to have commenced in 2016, but to date staff at DHMT still rent privately owned houses in the village. He pleaded with the minister to step in and force the contractor to accelerate pace.

In response Director of Katlego Investments Victor Motobake admitted that indeed there were delays in the construction of the houses. He said a lot was not what they had expected when they arrived at the site in 2016. 

“We have had a back and forth with government on quite a number of things such issues of design, meaning we could not even start excavation under the circumstances. We also had issues with the consultancy company which was engaged. But now that we have reached a mutual understanding with government and such people are no longer in the picture, we see a lot progress”. The other delay was the issue of lockdown as they had to wait for close to three months without work. The project according to Motobake is expected to be handed over before the end of the year.

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