Members of Parliament have called on government to consider adopting a standby maintenance budget plan for mega projects to avoid escalating costs due to delayed maintenance.
Concerns have been raised that after being handed over to government, mega projects like roads, hospital, stadiums, airports and school facilities often show signs of widening defects and collapse with no immediate capital to fix them.
“With our government committed to building concrete and formidable projects for the past 2-3 years I believe it is time we come up with a maintenance budget plan. Such a budget will save the country more money instead of waiting for the budget proposals and requests as maintenance costs increases,” said Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Phillip Makgalemele last week.
“As soon as the contractor hands over the keys of the project money should be available for any defects to avoid escalating costs due to delayed maintenance owing to the unavailability of capital.”
Makgalemele’s sentiments were reiterated by the opposition Member of Parliament Haskins Nkaigwa who lamented government excessive expenses due to delayed maintenance, insisting it costs a huge sum of money to renovate a project after a five year period of negligence due to lack of money.
“Like other legislators before me I believe it is high time all infrastructure developments are accorded a maintenance budget plan. There should be a proper budget for maintenance especially for the mega buildings. It has proved a difficult task financially to bring back a project to its original state after five years of delay,” said Nkaigwa.
Case in point is the expansion and renovation of the national airport, a project under public scrutiny. Following a dispute and subsequent termination of services and operations with the main Chinese contractor, SINOHYDRO Corporation Limited, because of delays and cost escalations, the expansion and maintenance of Sir Seretse Khama International Airport is anticipated to be delivered in September.
“Currently the project is in Defects Liability Period up to 15 August 2016. We are happy to announce that the International Chamber of Commerce arbitration where SINOHYDRO Corporation Limited had taken the Government of Botswana has been concluded through the signing of an amicable settlement on 11 December 2015,” Molefhi briefed Parliament.