Sunday, May 22, 2022

Molefhi rings warning bells to incompetent contractors

Minister for Lands and Housing, Nonofo Molefhi, vowed to blacklist “incompetent contractors” blamed for poor workmanship and for the late delivery of government projects, saying they have cost taxpayers millions of pula.

Molefhi, speaking at the inauguration of the Botswana Housing Corporation housing unit in Serowe on Thursday, did not mince his words, shifting from the native language to the queen’s language to accommodate both the local and international companies whose majority of infrastructural projects leaves much to be desired.

“While government is so much determined to develop the infrastructure of our country and, by so doing, engage both the local and international companies, we are worried about the quality of workmanship employed by these contractors whose majority of work leaves much to be desired,” he said. “Government cannot compromise quantity of infrastructural projects over quality and to reverse the trend we will issue red cards to non-performing and incompetent companies,” he said, adding that, “the full participation of the contractors in building an enviable Botswana was not satisfactory”.

“We should be seen to be playing this game together with the contractors; it is a part of government’s noble gesture to develop this country,” he added, arguing that, at the moment, the participation is skewed against the contractors who are only interested in ripping-off the public coffers for shoddy infrastructural projects.

His comments come in the wake of reports of the road construction and other government infrastructural developments, which are falling behind in terms of schedule and the quality of workmanship.

The problem has resulted in government losing millions of pula due to the sloppy work done by contractors, supervising government agencies and supporting arms, such as consulting engineers.
“There should be a 50/50 participation and intervention with the contractors playing an admirable role to catch the eye. They should meet their obligations timeously and within budget, unlike today where most projects are lagging behind with escalating costs,” he added.

He said excuses based on the non-availability of labour and shortage of supply will no longer be tolerated in the future.

His statements also come at a time when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is calling on Botswana government to rein in its spending or face the same situation such as most of the failed African states are in.

The IMF has predicted that if government continues with the current spending pattern, the country will be technically insolvent in four-to-five years.

However, the call by the international lending agency comes at a time when the ruling BDP is under pressure to deliver and, for the first time in its history, is being affected by a split.

Further, government has set itself a national goal 2016 to better the living standards of its citizens.

Vision 2016 and the general election falling in 2014 might increase government’s appetite to spend more in a bid to retain power.

“This message is not only meant for the contractors but includes the consultants and engineers as well who should be firm and hard on these contractors to ensure quality of our products,” Molefhi warned.

He added: “Those who fail to meet the required standards will be black-listed with no prospects of participating in future tenders.

“We have even detected that these individuals tend to migrate to other firms after giving the government a raw deal so, against this backdrop, I want to inform them we will be right on their heels to ensure they do not benefit from government tenders,” Molefhi said.

Molefhi was speaking at the unveiling of 107 housing units, named Metsimasweu Estates, constructed by a Chinese contractor at an estimated P25.4 million in Serowe.

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