The Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Nonofo Molefhi, says that despite several efforts by government to empower youth in the construction industry, his ministry continues to encounter challenges as some young contractors fail to meet the set standards.
Speaking during the Youth Construction Seminar in Francistown last week, Molefhi said that the challenges included among others lack of procurement schedules, poor planning of schedules, lack of competent manpower, poor project management, lack of financial resources and management and misdirection of project resources to activities not related to the project.
In 2009 the government adopted a 15 percent reservation policy for maintenance projects to youth individuals and companies. The minister said that although many of such projects had been delivered on time, budget and acceptable quality, some youth were failing to meet the standards.
“We have partnered with leading construction stakeholders locally and globally to help young contractors with mentorship to ensure that they become highly competent construction companies for the benefit of the country and its economy,” he said.
He lauded some private sector companies and local authorities for heeding the call from government to engage the youth to undertake some works and their development in the construction sector.
The minister said that the total budget provision for 2016/2017 maintenance projects stood at P87 265 000, 15 percent of which is P13 089 750 intended to be used on the programme.
“Remember nothing stops youth from competing in the mainstream construction works across government in addition to those reserved for them,” he said.
Molefhi revealed that 21 youth contractors had benefited from the on-going Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) so far and said it showed a positive growth to the ministry’s mentorship programme by creating a conducive environment to ensure that their companies became highly competent.
Molefhi said that it was very important for the youth to involve themselves in the industry at an early stage which is a positive development in sharpening their experience.
“We have a history of companies run by some who have not done so well due to various reasons. We have been grappling with problems of cost overruns, delayed completion of projects and poor quality works by some of the contractors. These problems remain a concern and a challenge for my ministry and indeed the entire government,” he said.
He said these challenges had forced the government to enforce some harsh contractual measures such as levying of Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LADs) and termination of contracts to deal with defaulters. Molefhi said his ministry did not tolerate underperformers and encouraged the contractors to adhere to professionalism and responsibility in their work.
“I want you to grow into responsible contractors who will at all times be mindful of the public expectations of you and not tail to fall into the same trap as others before you,” he cautioned.
The minister further said his ministry had assembled experts in such fields as procurement, financial management, project management and contract administration so that they can help capacitate the youth contractors in becoming better contractors.
“We have been liaising with other organisations such as the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) and CEDA to assist you to achieve you goals of becoming successful business people in the construction industry,” he said.
The Youth Construction Seminar was held to engage young contractors in the northern part of Botswana. It was held under the theme “Changing youth mind set in the construction industry.”