Wednesday, May 25, 2022

New BURS head office in architectural design scam

The architectural circles are abuzz with murmurs that a leading firm of architects that is a frontrunner in the bid to win the P400 million Botswana Unified Revenue Service headquarters has stolen their design concepts from Dubai.

BURS is about to build a new head office in the up-market Gaborone CBD.

The Sunday Standard can confirm that the designs by the company accused of plagiarism have made it to the shortlist.

If the firm of architects wins the controversial bid, they stand to make P20 million in fees.
The design impressions by the firm of which The Sunday Standard is in possession bear uncanny resemblances to the just completed Dubai Police Headquarters ÔÇô a luxury multi-story building in the centre of the city state of Dubai.

A complaint has already been lodged with the Botswana Architects’ Registration Council.
Chairman of the Botswana Architects’ Registration Council, Goitsemodimo Manowe, has confirmed to The Sunday Standard that his organization is aware of the allegations of ethical impropriety.

Manowe said the allegations surround the striking similarities between the Dubai Police headquarters and the proposed BURS head office bid submitted by the said company of architects.
“We are aware of the story,” said Manowe. “But we are unable to take action because the Council is not yet functional,” he continued.

He said according to the Act passed by parliament earlier this year, if it is found that the firm of architects accused of the scam are found answerable, they stand the risk of being suspended or, worse, being struck off the roll of practicing architects.

Manowe said he will be bringing the matter to the Council to see if it can be taken up with the relevant ministry. This, he said, was because the building at the centre of the allegations had national significance.

“What happens when intellectual property owners of this design (Dubai Police Headquarters) discover this? Will BURS be liable for litigation?” asked another architect who did not want to be named because his company had also tendered.

Though a semi-independent entity, under the government structure, BURS, led by Commissioner General reports to the Minister of Finance, Ken Matambo.

Investigations by The Sunday Standard have revealed that the accused company has in the recent past been able to rake 60 percent of all government construction design fees over a consecutive period of two years.

At another time, the same company of architects also held in its name half of the entire government construction design portfolio.

This has raised suspicions that somebody well placed with Government must be getting kickbacks from this firm.

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