Mokaila owns up in multimillion roads flop

Nicholas Mokwena
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila

Government of Botswana is grappling to produce results for the World Bank’s funded roads infrastructure projects in Gaborone under the Gaborone Integrated Transport Model.

Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila was last week at pains to explain progress on the project, which was signed off in 2010. Mokaila revealed that the aim of this loan was to try to improve the flow of traffic in Gaborone looking at the roads, intersections robots, as well as the type of cars needed. 

“It was a loan of US$385.2 million. Part of that loan is 106 million and the other part of money is paid by the Government of Botswana and the signalling systems,” said Mokaila adding that unfortunately because of lack of capacity within the Ministry, they have not done well with this particular project.

“I think to date we spent around US$58 million looking at the studies that were made in Gaborone. The biggest challenge as we speak is lack of capacity especially project management.” The minister explained that agreement was that the government would start paying after eight (8) years and since the deal was signed in 2010, repayment has not started. 

“The loan was signed in 2010 and we are already in the eighth year. We delayed because we do not have the capacity of doing it. If we do not have the capacity to implement, the insistence of the World Bank is that you have to have capacity. You have to demonstrate that there is capacity within the ministry for them to give you the money, but if you do not have that capacity, they do not give you the money. 

“When we got the loan, there was intention to build a Project Management Unit within my ministry but that has not happened as we speak,” Mokaila told Parliament when responding to questions from Member of Parliament for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa regarding the progress made so far on the project. 

The MP also wanted to know how much funding was received, how it has been utilised and what is delaying the implementation of the projects. The World Bank in its Website states that the development objective of the Integrated Transport Project for Botswana is to enhance the efficiency of the transport system by building modern business management capacity, and improving the strategic planning aspects of inter-regional transport and critical transport infrastructure. 

There are three components to the project. The first is capacity building, institutional strengthening, and training.  “This component comprises provision of technical advisory services to undertake a number of pre-investment activities and a capacity-building, knowledge transfer, and institutional strengthening and training programme. It aims to introduce strategic planning and transport integration, modem methods of management and contracting, technology improvement, knowledge development and sharing. 

“The second component of the project is road sector investment. This component introduces a pilot long term output and performance based road contracting (OPRC) method for a road asset management programme covering some 800km of rural and semi-urban road in Kanye road depot, as well as the provision of technical advisory services to monitor the progress and quality of works.” 

It has been further stated that the work cycle will include all required activities in order to reach the designed level of service on the specific road network from engineering to the final users’ satisfaction point of view. 

The third component of the project is urban roads infrastructure investment. This component comprises the implementation of an urban traffic improvement programme in Greater Gaborone city and technical advisory services to supervise construction of the improvement works under this component. 

The investment aims to solve the urgent urban congestions along the major city roads/streets and intersections introducing modem and advanced planning, design and implementation techniques. Mokaila also told legislators that currently his ministry has already issued a tender for the three intersections at Game city, Rainbow and BTV circles. He pointed out that they would be closed sometime next month. 

World Bank stated in its Implementation Status and Results Report dated June 30th 2017 that the implementation progress suffered during the reporting period. 

Most of the agreed activities have been delayed and some show little progress since the last mission, says the Bank. It was also stated that the Bank team performed the Restructuring Mission and agreed with Government that Project Implementation need to be strengthened significantly through restructuring and phased establishment of the Project Office.

“Of the detailed decisions are; to appoint an essential Project Management team to implement the project activities. To draft Project Office Framework covering at least the following; project reporting and working relationships with Ministry of Transport and Communications, Transport Reference Group, and Special Project Management Unit, staffing, financial management, procurement management and project management arrangements” reads the report. 

Restructuring actions involving increase in the Bank financing percentage on the works contracts in the OPRC-component with the intention to better utilise the available funding has been proposed in the report. 

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