Mabeo calls contractors to order

| September 15, 2015

The Minister of Transport and Communications Mr Tshenolo Mabeo has given contractors of the Kazungula Bridge a stern warning to get their house in order after it emerged that some sub-contractors and workers were not getting paid consistently.

This came to light during a site visit conducted by the minister on Sunday September 13. While there was notable progress with the engineers’ offices, Mr Mabeo was disappointed with the stalling engineers’ accommodation which he said had not progressed in the two months he had passed by.

“I was here two months ago and the place still looks the same way it did then,” he said warning that “we do not expect this project to fail like others.” He highlighted that the delay was costing the government as they had to pay rentals for the engineers in the meantime.

“This is by far the worst site I have seen today and this is unacceptable,” he said adding that the contractor must up their game to get the accommodation ready. In his defense, project manager for Daewoo, who are the contractors, Mr Yongwoo Kim said that they had concentrated more on getting the offices ready and neglected the accommodation. Currently, the engineers’ offices are almost complete with only the Internet left to be connected. “We will now be focusing on the accommodation site,” he assured the minister.

The minister noted that it would not make sense to have the offices ready while the occupants of those offices had nowhere to live.“Remember that recruitment for engineers is ongoing, where then are they going to live?” he asked.

On other issues, Mr Mabeo reminded Daewoo representatives that as the main sub-contractor they must ensure that sub-contractors are paid accordingly and also that the project is delivered on time without compromising on quality.

“When people who are hands-on are not paid in time then the project will definitely suffer,” he added. He said this after finding out that some sub-contractors were not paying their suppliers.

The project consultant Mr Kobamelo Kgoboko revealed that they already had labour complaints due to lack of payments resulting in some putting their tools down. Sub-contractors, Lead Masters were again in the news earlier this year over allegations of tribalism and corrupt hiring procedures when recruiting for the project.

Mr Mabeo emphasised the need for the matter to be resolved in the quickest possible time as he was not going to accept the project to fail. In response, Mr Kim said that they had paid all their sub-contractors on time yet they failed to pay their own service providers and suppliers as well as their workers.

However he added that they had started dealing directly with sub sub-contractors and are paying them directly. Currently the temporary bridge has commenced despite the project being two and half months behind schedule.

While the contractor has come up with a catch up plan, the Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications on the Zambian side Mr Yamfwa Mukanga has warned that their government will not accept a substandard project. Speaking at the site of the temporary bridge on the Zambian side, he pointed out that quality and safety should not be compromised and they need to move fast.

In his closing remarks, Mr Kim said they will catch up on the lost time and will deliver the project in December 2018. At 923 metres long Kazungula Bridge is expected to help in reduction of transit time from 36 hours to just two hours as well as integrate the economies served by the North-South corridor.

African Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency as well as the governments of both Zambia and Botswana fund the project .

Category: General

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