Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Swartz tells parliament about stadiums fiasco

Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Johnny Swartz, this week told parliament that some local stadiums were fast-tracked so as to reap the dividends anticipated from the just ended World Cup bonanza in South Africa.

Botswana is at pains to justify its massive refurbishment and building exercise of new stadiums but failing to attract a single foreign team to its shores.

As a result, some people are baying for ministers Kitso Mokaila and Shaw Kgathi’s blood for the failure.

Being ministers of Tourism and Sports respectively, the two led the task force to attract competing teams and tourist fans but claim that none of the stadiums was fast-tracked for the tournament, adding that the building of the new Lobatse and Francistown stadiums was, in fact, part and parcel of the national development plans and were in the pipe-line for implementation.

However, answering a question posed by Mogoditshane MP Patrick Masimolole on Wednesday, Swartz differed with his colleagues, insisting that some refurbishment and building of the new stadiums were pursued with the World Cup across the border in mind.

“In anticipation of the potential spin-off from the 2010 World cup even, some projects were fast-tracked, resulting in cost increases for consultancy services,” Swartz said.
Although under implementation, the former minister of Transport indicated there are 186 projects, 17 at pre-planning, 73 pre-contract while 96 are at post contract stages.

“All, these projects include the Lobatse, Francistown and Gaborone stadia,” he said.
While the original consultancy fees for the Lobatse Stadium was P10, 424, 548. 71, and subsequently revised to P14, 863 845. 23 due to an increase in scope of work and cost escalations, Francistown Stadium, under the consultancy of Arup Botswana, increased from the original amount of P8, 330, 973. 50 to P12, 636, 234.

SIM Design Group fees increased from the original amount of P2, 236, 845. 99 to P8, 078, 779. 50; Systems and Services from P1, 121, 470.00 to P3, 472, 666. 46; Lasco Engineering from P4, 346, 673. 00 to P5, 896, 673.00 and Killie and Dannhauser from P2, 851, 564. 41 to P5, 665, 742.6.

“The cost increases indicated in this project are all due to the difference in the cost estimate and the actual contract sum consistent with the prescribed percentage fee scales,” Swartz revealed, adding that “this project was conceptualized more than 10 years ago during which period the cost escalated”.

As for the Gaborone National Stadium, Tectura International consulting increased from P4, 922 261. 33 to P8, 477 811. 04; KVN Associates from P1, 725 635. 87 to P3, 215, 190. 00; Davis Langdon Botswana from P2, 268, 816, 05 to P4, 325 122. 60; M&K Associates and Engiconsult remained at P2, 847, 532. 00 and P1, 363, 560. 00, respectively.

Besides the increase in consultancy fees, Swartz also revealed increase in contractor fees.
The Lobatse Stadium, under Zhong Gan Construction and its sub-contractors tendered at P139, 340, 409. 37, which would escalate to P193, 760, 513. 89 because, during the construction, the designs of the stands were changed from embarkment to concrete frame structure due to the soil conditions.
Although not yet changed at P P174, 826, 508. 40, the fees for Tuwana Construction, the main constructor at the Francistown Stadium are expected to increase at approximately 25 percent due to escalations and extension of time claims.

Unlike other stadia, however, Swartz said Gaborone National Stadium, under Hitecon, is expected to be finished within budget at P66, 601, 782. 08.

While the date of completion of the two stadia has been extended, Swartz however anticipates the hand-over of Gaborone Stadium in August 2010.

“Lobatse Stadium was originally scheduled to be completed by the 13th January 2010 but the contract has been extended to 30th August 2010. Similarly, the original completion date for Francistown was 6th January 2010 but extended to 20th December 2010,” Swartz said, adding that while the Gaborone National Stadium was scheduled for completion by 10th January 2010, the handover of the project is currently being done in phases and should be completed by August 2010.

”My ministry is aware of implementation problems associated with these projects and, as a result, we are in the process of reviewing the method of engaging contractors and consultants,” Swartz noted, insisting that “to break emerging monopolistic and cost escalation trends my ministry is reviewing procurement strategies to remove exclusive consortium bidding, establish procurement unit and a national construction board”.

“Furthermore,” he said, “my ministry has introduced ministerial technical units and regular project visits by senior management to improve on supervision,” he concluded.

Worried about the stadia, which were earmarked for the just ended World Cup, Masimolole wanted to know the progress so far so achieved, the consultants employed and the expenses incurred to date.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.