New graders to improve gravel roads

Transport and Communications ministry has acquired 21 brand new graders in response to a public outcry over the poor condition of gravel roads in the country.

Gravel roads make up to 50 percent of the public network highway.

The graders from Barloworld Equipment were bought for P53 million, with each item bought estimated to cost in the region of P2.5 million.  Seven of these graders were unveiled yesterday at a ceremony in Metsimotlhabe that saw transport minister Nonofo Molefhi having the opportunity to experiment how the machines will breathe new life into some of the country’s roads.

Molefhi said his ministry was responsible for 11 500 km of unpaved roads, as well as 6 500 km of paved roads. An elated Molefhi said it was not usually the case that financial resources were available to maintain these roads.

“They will be used to do work internally and we are not replacing private contractors,” said the minister, adding that the procurement was a stopgap arrangement.
“The distribution of the assets would be determined by the amount of work at disposal.” Molefhi hoped that the distribution would alleviate problems experienced by motorists and various other road users.

Pius Mphathiwa, director at Department of Roads, said the operators as well as mechanics of the graders would undergo training. He also allayed fears that private contractors would be sidelined.

“We are not taking their work and we are not intending to cast them aside,” said Mphathiwa. Barloworld’s Managing Director, Sean Walsh, said they were not taking this significant order from government lightly, adding that this year would mark Barloworld’s 50th anniversary of doing business with the government of Botswana.

“We are expecting to deliver the remaining graders by the end of this month,” he noted.