Friday, December 3, 2021

Nigeria-like infrastructure corruption to cost Gov’t millions in Kasane

A myriad of backroom dealings have left Botswana Government exposed and no project undertaken after money started to exchange between senior officials at the Ministry of Lands on one hand and  contractors and consultants on the other.

What started as a coveted P86 million project that was awarded as part of the Economic Stimulus Programme to construct roads, sewer and related infrastructure in Kasane is now in limbo.

Had it  been completed the projected would have seen 5000 new homes created, with some people of Kasane being relocated from the coalface of the Chobe National Park to make way for wildlife along the Chobe-Zambezi River where they are currently troubled by movement of animals.

But greed, insensitivity and corruption among those tasked with seeing the project to fruition conspired against the people of Kasane and Botswana Government.

The result is millions worth of materials remain idle and wasting away on site, no project undertaken and Government facing a huge bill for projects that were never undertaken.

Documents seen by Sunday Standard show that a citizen contractor called Bathopele was awarded a contract with an understanding that Environmental Impact Assessment had been done.

When the contractor arrived on site bearing materials and ready to start and also having received some mobilisation money from Government, it immediately dawned on them that no such Environmental Impact Assessment had been done.

A wild goose chase then ensued, as the contractor was pissed from pillar to post between the Ministry officials and the consultants.

A trail of documents shows that a buddy-buddy relationship between a government’s project officer at the ministry and the consultants has been the root cause of the disabilities that rocked the project and ultimately led to the project being stillborn.

The contractor says he is suing for lost money.

Although the project had been awarded as a high priority project there is no evidence to suggest that it is being treated as urgent  ÔÇô  least of all from the standpoint of the client.

An Adjudication Board that was appointed has not met, many months later.

One member of the Board has resigned after he said the Ministry of Lands was questioning his integrity.

He too is threatening legal action. And is busy consulting for legal advice.

A senior official at the ministry received some money as a present when they were leaving for the United States.

In the meantime the people of that section of Kasane tourism enclave that were due for relocation remain on harm’s way as they continue to stay in the same frontier of wildlife from where they were supposed to be relocated.

When contacted, the Managing Director of Batho Pele, Morulaganyi Tshitoeng said he remains committed to the project if only everybody else could play their role.

He said if the project is for any reason terminated, he will push for the costs that are due to him by law.

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