FRANCISTOWN: China Railways Seventh Group, the Chinese contractor who is currently undertaking the rehabilitation and upgrade of the Tonota ÔÇô Francistown road is expected to hand over the project to the Department of Road end of April this year. The project is currently at 97 percent.
Speaking to the Sunday Standard last week in an interview, the Principal Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Doreen Moapare said that the project was slightly delayed by approximately five weeks due to relocation of services. She said this has however not affected costs of the project.
“We expect that the project should be handed at the end of April 2016. The project experienced some delays due to relocation of services, but this has not however affected costs to the project. It was delayed by five weeks,” she said The Tonota ÔÇô Francistown road project began in October 2012 and was expected to take a duration of 36 months. The tender was awarded to China Railways Seventh Group at close to P1 billion. The reconstruction and upgrading of the 30 km road included the upgrading of the existing road infrastructure into a dual carriage way, upgrading of bridges and access roads along this roads. The project also included the construction of a separated grade junction also known as “Spaghetti” at Thapama Circle which now referred to as the Thapama interchange. Works on the Interchange which is the first of its kind in the country began in March 2013.
Touching on the Interchange junction Moapare revealed that the project is currently 17 weeks behind schedule sitting at 33 percent against the planned 55 percent.
“This is due to the delays caused by relocation of services. The contractor has however started intensifying works to ensure that the construction program finishes on time and on budget. The Thapama interchange is expected to be handed over at the end of August in 2016,” she added In February this year, during the tour of the project by the Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo the contractor bemoaned among others, delay caused by acquiring some of the construction materials outside of Botswana, the relocation of services and shortage of manpower.
The Tonota ÔÇô Francistown dual road project was established in an endeavor to curb traffic congestion which is currently be-devilling Francistown. The design of the project was completed in February 2003. After completion of the design, process to commence construction of the road did not start immediately due to financial constraints until ten years after completion of the design. With the increase of vehicles and considering the lapse of ten years, the Ministry of Transport and Communications then engaged a citizen company, Pula Consultants (Pty) Ltd to review the continued adequacy and functionality of the traffic signalized junction of the Thapama Circle as designed in 2003.
It was then observed that a more improved traffic management approach would be required hence the establishment of the road with the interchange component.