Who else? The Chinese.
ON WEDNESDAY, we went to Electrical Distribution, who have opened an exclusive lights shop in Broadhurst Industrial. While in the shop, we were cautioned, “Be careful, you will slip… It is wet because the roof is leaking,” a friendly staff member advised. Behold, there was water, water everywhere risking to damage a display of outdoor lights.
Oh my God. Who built this leaking structure? we asked. “Who else, the Chinese,” was the answer. This nice complex that houses Sprint Couriers among others apparently belongs to the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC). We are not going to go into the BDC vs the Chinese saga etcetera. But we are deeply concerned about structurally defective buildings, airports, etc., which are scattered all over our country, not to mention those structures which have long passed their completion dates.
This is not to say all Chinese do shoddy jobs, but the bulk of our new infrastructures which are sadly substandard were built by Chinese construction companies. These few corrupt and unscrupulous individuals tarnish the name of a country which is an icon, a leader in the global market. While in Japan last year, President Seretse Khama Ian Khama met with Batswana students. One of the students, asked the First Citizen, why the Chinese were being allowed to get away with poor workmanship in our country.
THE PRESIDENT was at a loss of words. But why are the Chinese still getting the tenders? Isn’t it better to let Batswana contractors with their expensive taste for Mercedez Benzes, Jeeps, Range Rovers and Hummers, to be given the jobs under strict supervision.
They should be given basic business skills, especially that the money for the Tender should be used for that project, not for impressing the neighbours. Like toddlers they need someone hovering over them, monitoring the cash flow and ensuring that the money isn’t diverted to pay for lavish lifestyles.
At least our flamboyant brothers and sisters will be here to face the ‘in the matter between’ notices. The government should then blacklist the culprits. This will teach wanna be contractors to be serious about the contracts.
To let the Chinese contractors milk the country dry, while stashing millions of foreign currency in their cupboards—with a chance to run home at the first sign of trouble, will leave us with nothing, but defective leaking structures and corrupt bribing citizens left in the lurch as they face the music.
AN EXTRACT from an Interview The Voice had with President Khama in November, 2010.
VOICE: THERE ARE some defects in infrastructure constructed by some Chinese contractors. And what is being done about local contractors who don’t perform to the required standard?
Khama: … We will improve on the supervision of the contractors to ensure that the quality improves and also we will blacklist companies that produce poor quality work so that they don’t have an opportunity to participate in government tenders in future. This is sad but we just can’t tolerate this type of work ethic.
VOICE: THE CHINESE dominate most of the construction work?
Khama: They dominate the top end of the market. This is because leading up to the 2010 World Cup, some of the big contractors in this country left to set up or look for the opportunity to participate in South Africa, but I am told they are now coming back.
The majority who were left were those that you are talking about, they stayed on and didn’t leave. Unfortunately our own contractors have over the years not been able to grow themselves to be able to have that capacity to participate in some of the large construction tenders. They tend to take the small and medium contracts. And we have problems with our own construction companies as well. It is not only those that you mentioned, even Batswana contractors let us down a lot.
They abandon the projects and leave the jobs undone, just because of poor management. They buy Mercedez Benzes and some of them do not even pay their workers. What can we do? When the job fails we have to stop the contract and bring in a new contractor. The best way to teach them a lesson is to blacklist them.