The long awaited Tonota ÔÇô Francistown dual road which was to be handed over by the contractor to the Ministry of Transport and Communication end of April 2015 has failed to meet its deadline.
Last month the Principal Public Relations at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Doreen Moapare announced that the road was at 97 percent completion progress against the anticipated 100 percent and was to be handed by the contractor end of April 2016.
The upgrade of the Tonota ÔÇô Francistown road project which is undertaken by China Railways Seventh Group, a Chinese company began in October 2012 and was expected to take a duration of 36 months. The reconstruction and upgrading of the 30 km road includes the upgrading of the existing road infrastructure into a dual carriage way, upgrading of bridges and access roads along this roads.
The project also includes the construction of a separated grade junction also known as “Spaghetti” which is the first of its kind in Botswana. Works on the Interchange commenced in March 2013. Moapare revealed last month that the interchange which is a component of the project was at 17 weeks behind schedule sitting at 33 percent against the planned 55 percent. She said the delays were due to relocation of services. She however said that the contractor is intensifying works to ensure that the construction program finishes on time and on budget. The interchange component is expected to be handed over at the end of August in 2016.
This whole project which cost government over P1 billion was established in an endeavor to ease traffic congestion which is currently be-devilling Francistown. The design of the project was completed in February 2003. The Process to commence construction of the road did not start immediately due to financial constraints until ten years after completion of the design. Due to the increase of vehicles and considering the lapse of ten years, the Ministry of Transport and Communications 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.
The Ministry then observed that a more improved traffic management approach would be required hence the establishment of the road with the interchange component
In an interview with the Sunday Standard last week, Moapare could not comment on the project. She however said she will make some enquiries from her authorities and come back to this publication on Friday but never did up until the time of going for press.
However sources who work for the China Railways Seventh Group company told this publication last week in condition of anonymity that there is still a lot of work to be done for the road to be complete despite an announcement by the ministry that it will soon be handed by the contractor. They said that one of the problems is that there is shortage of manpower and materials.
“Although there is much progress, It is unlikely that this road will be handed soon. There is still a lot of work to be done. One of the main problems that we face is that there is shortage of manpower and this has somehow affected the progress,” said one of the employees who preferred anonymity.
A number of motorists are also complaining over the state of the new road as they say that it is bumpy and uncomfortable.
Keaboka Mokgatla, a vegetable vendor who plies his trade between Tonota and Francistown, told this publication that he has used the partly complete road and it is not comfortable.
“I have driven a couple of times on the partly complete new road from Francistown to Tonota. It is not very comfortable given the fact that it is new. I am still not convinced that the new road is of the required quality standard,” he said.
Another motorist, Witness Maskhuze who operates a taxi business said that although the new road is a good initiative, he doubts if the project will complete well on time. He however said the contractor needs to be given benefit of doubt.
“I am also not very convinced that the road is of the right quality but we need to give the contractor benefit of doubt,” he added.