Cllrs lambast govt for late projects
The snail pace of major projects in Francistown has irked councillors who are now calling for heads to roll and tenders to be withdrawn.
The projects include the refurbishment of Francistown State Prison which was closed for renovations two years ago and inmates relocated to other rehabilitation centres in Mahalapye, Serowe and Selebi-Phikwe.
It is not known when the once 400 capacity facility will be complete as works have stalled due to various problems while the contractor requests for extension of time.
Another major project is the long overdue junior secondary school in Gerald Estates.
Construction of this only secondary school in that area had to be suspended for months because an environment impact assessment study was not carried out.
The refurbishment of the council’s abattoir is another project whose completion is nowhere near. The abattoir was closed in 2012 and local butcheries currently slaughter livestock in the surrounding villages.
Briefing councillors on the state of government funded projects in the city recently, Assistant District Commissioner, Boyce Mangole indicated that most of the projects are faced with various challenges.
“The contractor of the prison project is behind schedule. The Department of buildings has had various meetings with him and the main problem seems to be procurement of supplies.
“As for the abattoir, it was more dilapidated than stated and the contractor had to engage an expert from South Africa. This slowed progress and the contractor had to apply for extension,” he said.
However, councillors said they were tired of excuses as it was now the norm for government projects to take longer than expected and to cost more than budgeted for.
Specially nominated councilor, Tuelo Zazambi said: “Take a look at projects in the private sector such as the Botho Univeristy campus here in Francistown. It was completed on time and within budget. Why can’t the same happen with government projects? Why are we failing to find the right people.”
He said it was clear that there was not enough supervision and due diligence done before awarding tenders.
“This is why local contractors are always asking for extension of time. It is a shame that for the past 50 years we are not able to complete our own projects on time. This is not acceptable,” he said.
Cllr Ephraim Maikesto said it was a shame that not even one project had been completed on time in Francistown.
“It’s a common phenomenon. Contractors often offer excuses why projects are never finish on time. Which project can you point at that was completed on time? Aaid Maiketso.
Former mayor and now specially nominated councillor, Peter Ngoma however defended the contractors saying some of the problems they faced were beyond their control.
“There are third parties involved such as suppliers of materials. It’s not that our local contractors are not capable, they are facing various challenges in carrying out their duties”, highlighted Ngoma.
He said termination of contracts was likely to cause more problems for the council and the central government.
“We are bound to incur more expenses. Parting ways with contractors is not the solution all the time”, advised Ngoma.