Johnnie Swartz said instead of the anger he had felt during his initial inspection of buildings like the Mass Media Complex, the 18-month delay in the completion of Madirelo Training and Testing Centre (MTTC) Hotel and Catering School and Energy Workshop by contractors Complant Botswana merely left him depressed.
Swartz was speaking after inspecting the MTTC Hotel School, which was the last leg of his inspection tour of projects overseen by his ministry yesterday. Other projects he inspected in Gaborone were the Institute of Health Sciences (IHS) staff housing, the Mass Media Complex and the Parliamentary ablution block.
Work on the hotel school started in April 2009 and was originally scheduled to be completed in February last year.
The new completion date is August 31, 2011, almost double the original period agreed at tender.
Dafang Wang, Project Manager for Complant Botswana, was at pains to explain to the minister and his entourage, which included Permanent Secretary Carter Morupisi, what the cause of the delays was.
According to Dafang, the delays were due to several factors. Firstly, the project was designed internally and work carried out by in-house engineers from the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services (DBES), but some of the consultants, such as the interior decorator and the acoustics engineer had to be outsourced. This meant that by the time construction was started on the project, all the designs had not been completed. Because of revisions to the designs, and the time it took to approve final designs, the company was only able to order some of their material after the Christmas break. Another factor, he said, was the difficulty in sourcing some of the material they required, which could not be found in the region. Again, because of the high demand in South Africa last year due to increased construction work ahead of the football world cup, some material was hard to come by, Dafang said.
Indranie Rambukwelle, Acting Manager in the Ministerial Technical Unit, who was also the civil and structural engineer for the project, explained that there was a high turnover of electrical and mechanical engineers for the project, which stalled the design and supervision of the project.
Revisions to the design and the demand for more expensive equipment not included in the original tender will also result in an increase in costs for the project. It was unclear whether the engineers, who had approved revisions and the more expensive equipment had been given vetting authority by the director, the minister heard.
The original contract amount is P41,848,869, while the anticipated final project cost is P42,785,000. Over P18 million is also expected for outstanding work, to procure equipment and to furnish the hotel school, according to the project's planning officer.
Complant Botswana, the main contractor, is a Chinese company registered in Botswana. Electrical sub-contractors were Maps Electrical, a citizen company, while Bonanza Equipment, also a citizen company, was the mechanical subcontractor. The client ministry is the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs.
However, it was not all doom and gloom, as during inspection of the interior of the 95 percent completed building, Swartz said that he was pleased to see that it was a state-of-the art facility.
"I have often heard about state-of-the-art facilities, but this is the first time I am seeing one," he said.
Swartz has been on periodic inspections following widespread criticism over project construction delays and structural defects that emerge soon after handover.