Monday, October 26, 2020

Tshele Hills fuel storage facility will be completed ‘before 2023’

The Botswana Oil Limited’s Head of Stakeholder Relations, Matida Mmipi, says that the long-awaited Tshele Hills storage facility will be completed “before 2023.”

“The government has decided that the Tshele Hills Project be carried out through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model,” said Mmipi in a written response to our questions. “Therefore, currently the government is still procuring a Transactional Advisor for the project. The project is expected to be completed before 2023.”

Where they deal with governments, transactional advisors assist in the planning, procurement and implementation of large-scale transactions for infrastructure and related services. The key objective of using these professionals is to improve the quality of project outcomes by ensuring a link between the objectives of government and the ultimate contract.

Mmipi says that the Transactional Advisor for the Tshele Hills project will define procurement modalities and “advise government on the most appropriate PPP funding model and procurement model as provided for under Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act.” For now, she adds, “it is premature to state how the contractor will be procured before the appointment of the Transactional Advisor is completed.”

According to Mmipi, construction of the Tshele Hills project is being done in phases and work that was awarded through a tendering system has been completed this being. The latter includes construction of an access road (including road over rail-bridge), construction of a rail spur to the site, connection of power and water supply to the site as well as bulk earth works.

“What is still remaining is construction of the petroleum tanks and associated infrastructure,” says Mmipi. “This last phase has commenced and will now be completed through PPP.”

At least according to the public record, the Tshele Hills project harks back to 2008 when, in his first state-of-the-nation address, then President Ian Khama, told the nation that “transforming the nation from an energy deficit to surplus nation has become a new development priority.” The Tshele Hills project was part of such plan but when Khama left office in April 2018, the project was still lagging behind. His explanation to Sunday Standard is that the project was to be implemented in phases, the very first one being acquisition of land. The latter encompassed identifying such land, negotiating with owners and then compensating owners.

“That took time,” the former president said.

After the acquisition of land followed the awarding of tenders for the clearing and preparation of land on which the fuel storage would be as well as the access road and rail link.

“That done, the construction of those access road and rail and the preparation of the ground was done and completed around or just after I left office,” Khama said.

Going back to 2012, the completion date has always been a persistently moving target – which is problematic for purposes of relying on “before 2023.” When complete, the 171 million litre capacity storage facility will add an additional 49 days to Botswana’s strategic reserves.

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