Wednesday, October 21, 2020

P400m project to light up Gaborone way off beam

A year after it was awarded, a multi-million pula project to install LED street lights in Gaborone has yet to get started with the now obvious result that the capital city will celebrate the nation’s golden jubilee in semi-darkness.

The explanation from the mayor, Kagiso Thutwe, is that following the award of the tender, companies that had lost lodged an appeal with the Gaborone City Council complaining about the fairness of the selection process. Sunday Standard learns that the tender was won by a citizen-owned company called Acute (Pty) Ltd and that its amount is in the P300-400 million region. Given how long back this was, the GCC processes have not moved fast enough. The mayor says that the issue is still with the Appeals Board which, as it turns out, has not adjudicated on it. However, there may be some headway soon because that is about to happen.

“The Appeals Board is about to sit and we expect a verdict on the matter soon thereafter,” Thutwe says.

While all this plays itself out, the city continues to wallow in semi-darkness as a disproportionately large number of streetlights have either not been working for a very long period of time or working on and off. At any other time this situation may have been mildly tolerable but largely for reasons of symbolism, 2016 is not a good year for this to be happening and Gaborone not the right place to be host to this debacle. Celebrating the golden jubilee in a semi-dark capital city stands as a strong argument against daily declarations on state media and from the Government Enclave that the country has made major developmental strides. Also dampening the celebratory mood are some pungent smells that hang heavy in the air at lunch and dinner times in shopping malls areas (namely Molapo Crossing and Kgale Mall) which have high-end restaurants that attract high patronage.

Four short years after the Botswana Power Corporation replaced standard incandescent light bulbs in homes and business premises with compact fluorescent lights (CFL), light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are emerging as a more energy-efficient option and with solid science to back this up. While they cost more, LED lights last much longer, meaning that consumers buy fewer bulbs over time. Manufacturing technologies are also lowering the prices. If the tender problem is ironed out and the project goes head, GCC will become the second government institution to adopt wholesale use of LED lights after the Department of Roads which installed these lights on an ever-lit section of the road between Francistown and Tonota. 

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