Wednesday, August 17, 2022

PS worried about project cost overruns

The construction industry has been advised to refocus its attention as the Government has shifted its concentration from new projects to maintenance of existing infrastructure.

The global recession and the uncomfortably high government deficit saw government shifting its attention, with projects down-sized, shelved and some deferred indefinitely and the construction sector took a hard knock in this regard.

“This motion by the Government to maintain the existing infrastructure expects you to shift your focus and assist government in the management of this situation,” said Carter Morupisi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology. “Assistance can take many forms, including increases in productivity and improvements in operational efficiency by contractors to complete projects on time and within budgets, thus obviating unnecessary cost overruns.”

Addressing contractors, Morupisi openly expressed disappointment with the current situation where almost all Government construction projects are never completed within original budget and stipulated time frame could no longer be tolerated.

“This culture has ruined our economy and enriched the perpetrators at the expense of Batswana who are increasingly getting less value from the limited Government resources,” he said.

He urged contractors to execute their projects professionally and avoid reproach saying, “It has become common knowledge that the integrity of some of the service providers in the construction industry has become highly reproachable.”

In addition he said, “Poor performance by contractors would be incomplete without mentioning that it is partly attributed to poor project planning and lamentable project supervision by DBES staff, including project consultants.” He said it has not been uncommon for projects scope and specifications to be changed mid-stream during project implementation.

“This has provided an opportunity for unscrupulous service providers to inflate the costs of projects, using the changed specification as a smokescreen,” said Morupisi.

He said the poor project supervision has cost Government billions of Pula through projects that have not been delivered to expectations.

“There are cases where projects were abandoned at the point of commissioning due to poor planning and supervision,” he said.

He commended the establishment of the Engineers Registration Board (ERB), which was launched last month, saying it came at the appropriate time. ERB’s primary mandate is to regulate the services and conduct of registered engineers in accordance with the functions and powers conferred upon it by the Act establishing it.

“The Board will assist the country to weed out the seemingly unethical practices in the construction industry and create an environment of zero tolerance for professional misconduct,” he said.

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