Taxpayers are losing millions of pula in cost overruns in the construction of government buildings due to poor planning ÔÇô it has emerged.
Government is estimated to have lost more than P20 million due to cost overruns in the construction of the new Attorney General’s Chambers office block, Ministry of Health Office block and President Festus Mogae’s retirement home.
Construction of the new Attorney General’s Chambers office block suffered cost overruns in excess of P11 million because government officials kept on altering the plan while construction was in progress.
The Minister of Works and Transport, Lesego Motsumi, told Parliament on Friday that “the project had a time delay of 544 days which resulted in an additional cost of P11, 734,464.27.”
From this amount, close to P6 million was because of the “project variations which arose because of the changes required by the end user. At the very beginning of the project, the building was specifically designed to accommodate the requirements of the end users who were the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Department of Taxes. A change was then made, such that the office space allocated to the Attorney General’s Chambers would be taken over by the then Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This was then changed to the former Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications and subsequently, the former Department of Architecture and Building Services. None of these occupancy changes came to fruition, and in the end it was resolved that the Attorney General’s Chambers should occupy the building.”
Motsumi explained that “at every stage, when changes in the end user were made, the designs had to be changed to accommodate the specific requirements of the new end user. More importantly, while all the mooted occupancy changes were made, construction of the building was continuing as work stoppages to accommodate the design changes would have led to substantial cost increases.”
She further explained that further costs were incurred due to, among other things, “material fluctuation increases and expense claims due to extension of time, cost of redundant materials and demolitions due to the changes in designs where the contractor had already purchased some materials and/or carried out some construction work.”
Construction of the Ministry of Health office block, on the other end, was delayed by 288 days partly because of the changes made to the plans by government officials while construction was ongoing and partly because of the delays by the contractor. Tax payers lost P5 million following changes made to the original plan by government while construction was on going. “This was occasioned by the end user’s newly approved organizational structure having created new departments. Hence there was a need to ensure that the building would accommodate the requirements associated with the end user’s newly approved organizational structure”, she said.
Meanwhile, construction of President Festus Mogae’s retirement home has fallen behind by 56 days. While the preliminary budget estimate was P 12, 8 million in June 2005, the pre tender budget estimate in February 2006 was P15, 9 million.
The Minister told Parliament that “at this stage I am unable to say in exact terms the projected final account of this project because it is presently on-going.” The Minister was answering questions from Palapye Member of Parliament, Boyce Sebetela.