Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) chief executive is a frustrated man hardly two years after government introduced the single housing authority and took Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) from local authorities to BHC.
Giving an overview of the project during the handover ceremony of 30 turnkey houses to North East District Council, Reginald Motswaiso said that his organisation is facing many challenges in implementing the project. This is in stark contrast to his address to BALA congress in 2012 when he accused councillors of failing in their housing delivery mandate and held BHC as the “more experienced, better resourced and focused on the core business of providing housing.”
Apart from NEDC, the project is proving to be an uphill challenge for BHC as in other districts they have not managed to deliver any of the houses they have been allocated to construct.
Each constituency has been allocated 17 SHHA turnkey houses and BHC has been mandated to ensure that they are constructed and delivered on time to the beneficiaries. Motswaiso said that BHC is operating at a loss in the project as government is reluctant to increase the construction amount, which currently stands at P60 000 per housing unit. “We are told that we have to work with the little we have been given and that the money cannot be increased,” said a frustrated Motswaiso.
Out of the P60 000 only P12 500 is for labour which according to Motswaiso is paltry and cannot sustain anyone in the current economic environment. Due to low payment by BHC, most local contractors are reluctant to undertake turnkey housing projects as it does not profit them. “Most of the construction companies who have decided to undertake the project are just doing it out of patriotism as the money given to them is nothing at all,’’ said the BHC CEO.
To address the issue of contractors, Motswaiso said that they have decided to move the tender from A to B scale. He said over and above that prices for building materials differ from one district to the another due to geographical location and as such a fixed amount of P60 000 seems to be a stumbling block. BHC CEO noted that most of the people who have been approved for the turnkey housing project fail to fulfil the conditions laid out for them.
“When we go to the site we find that they have not signed a contract with the local authority which is a pre-requirement and the plot has also not been de-bushed,’’ noted Motswaiso. Stealing of building materials is another issue that is bothering Motswaiso as he says this escalates the cost of construction, “we have decided to give the contractor money to buy materials and there is going to be strict supervision.’’
Responding to some of Motswaiso’s concerns especially the P60 000 construction funds, deputy permanent secretary at lands and housing ministry Maotoanong Sebina said that they understand and take note of their frustrations. “We are not just sitting and doing nothing but aware of the challenge and we are also still looking through it but are faced with a challenge as well of sourcing funds.”