Francistown Industrial court last week passed an order attaching the machinery of Bash Carriers, a road construction company which was funded under the ESP to the tune of over 400 million pula.The company was to construct a bituminous road project between Tshesebe village and Masunga through Mosojane which was terminated by the responsible ministry for incompetency.
The order followed another similar one, which was passed by the same court on the 18 of October 2018 the previous week, giving the contractor 7 working days to have paid the aggrieved workers over 1 million pula, which they are currently owed.
Last week Thursday, Kagiso Kaizer Melemo and 199 other former employees at Bash Carriers approached the Industrial Court making an urgent application for the machinery of their former employer to be attached by deputy sheriffs since the contractor was nowhere to be found, having left hundreds of workers stranded without their August, September and October 2018 salaries and unpaid severance benefits.
As if that was not enough, the aggrieved workers revealed that they made the urgent application after discovering that although their employer had disappeared into thin air, his equipment in the construction sites was being secretly moved elsewhere without their knowledge.
When their demands were granted, the jubilant workers informed this publication that they will be assured of their payments in the event the said equipment amounting to more than 5million pula is auctioned. Efforts to call the Director of Bash proved futile for the past week as all his mobile numbers given to this publication did not go through, a habit which the aggrieved workers had raised before the industrial court.
The Tshesebe- Masunga ESP -funded project which was signed on the 6th of April 2017 crumbled way before it could be completed.Bash Carriers Pty Ltd is a 100 percent citizen owned contractor and the company pocketed a sum of BWP 430,047,693.11 but could not even complete 50 percent of the constructions of the road, which has a number of bridges.
On the third of October 2018, workers were given employment termination letters. Before they could vacate the site, they inquired about their severance benefits only for them to be referred to the office accountant in Gaborone who then issued them with a table detailing their payments schedule, only for the company to secretly move equipment elsewhere.
When the North East council full house resumed at the beginning of this year, councillors complained of the snail’s pace of the contractor whom they accused of failing to adhere to his contractual obligations which required that by February 2018, the project should be at least 50 percent in progress.
When contacted for a comment, North East District Chairperson Florah Mpetsane confirmed that the contractor for the project left the site and laid off dozens of employees. She also revealed that as per a directive from the responsible ministry, the tendering for a new construction company will soon take place but warned that the bidding process takes a long time.
The project will see the upgrading of the existing gravel road of Tshesebe – Masunga Road (approximately 23km) from gravel road to bituminous standards with associated geometric improvements. It starts at Tshesebe junction on Francistown – Ramokgwebana A1 section, traverses through Mosojane, and ends at the junction with the Sebina – Zwenshambe tarred road in Masunga village.
The road has the following access roads: Mosojane access road (0.1km), Mosojane Masukwane road (5.7km), Pole access road (1km), Masunga Letsholathebe access road (6.7km), Mosojane -Mulambakwena access road (8km), Masunga access road (0.2km) and Masukwane Kgari access road (7km).
The project was awarded for construction to Bash Carriers Pty Ltd at a sum of BWP 430,047,693.11 while the supervision was awarded to Rites Africa in association with Pula Consultants Ltd at a sum of BWP 18,751,082.00 including VAT.