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M125 million wasted on Gov project

Business

…as additional M45 million is spent to complete project

Ntsoaki Motaung and Mohloai Mpesi

The government of Lesotho has lost a whopping M125million on the Rural Water Supply project at Tsikoane community in the Leribe district. 

The project which was instigated in 2012 is reported to have displayed technical complications as no water came out after its completion and was given a four-year postponement which dug more coins from the government purse.

This was revealed yesterday (Wednesday March 31, 2021) by Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro in his presentation to the nation on the Progress Report on Major Projects at the ‘Manthabiseng National Convention Centre in Maseru.

“The Tsikoane project was started in 2012 and was completed four years later,” he said.

He indicated that the project was implemented and worked to the end, with so many glitches that when the project was supposed to run; the taps were unable to release water during the launch.

 “The government had invested M125 million on the project and failed, for it to function the government had to add up another M45million so that the project can be productive. The project is expected to be finished by the end of September this year,” he said.

Majoro stated that apart from this project, there was a Vocational Center project in which the government had taken a debt of $4.77 million (about M71 million) from India and bought machinery for the project.

“The government took a debt of $4.77 million from India and bought machinery that was meant to help Basotho to start their businesses. We were surprised to learn that when the machines arrived in the country there is no place to store them we forgot to build the store for the machines. The project was for 2013. Machines were place outside and they were affected by the weather conditions though I cannot state how much damage was incurred,” he said.

Majoro indicated that after the delay of about five years with the machines outside he is proud to announce that the project is complete and the machines are inside the building and he is expecting that the production process will soon start.

“There is also a project to build park homes that were going to be used for the Home Affairs’ Livestock Registration, Marking and Information Systems initiative. When we got to the site with the Minister of Police there were no park homes but one could see that the land was prepared for the park homes to be placed,” he said.

Majoro said “this project is where contractors competed and the project started but along the way it was discovered that the chosen contractor was paid before the work was done and there were no park homes. Now the contractor has taken the government to court accusing us for paying him before he finished his job. Saying who said I should be paid? Now the money you have paid me has vanished,” he said.

He however stated that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) has taken this matter up and a case will be taken to court soon.

“What is left is for the Minister of Home Affairs to find ways for the park homes to be there while we are still fighting with the matter in hand,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Premier gave updates of a number other government projects, inclusive of one on the design and construction of a new correctional services facility in Mafeteng estimated to cost some M900 million. Majoro pointed out that the facility has already been designed, and that what is left is to find funding for the project to resume.

Construction of new Mafeteng Correctional Institution Project involves construction of 450-inmate’s capacity cell blocks separated according to their classifications, admin block, receipt block, hospital block, workshops, classrooms as well as staff housing for senior and junior officers

The design of the project was reported to be at the latest stage and is anticipated to be final by the end October 2021. The cost of the project has been reduced from M1.7billion to M800million with hospital and workshops cut down.

Resolution, it was recommended that the ministries of Development Planning, Justice as well as Public Works should convene a meeting to finalise a pending issue and pave way forward for construction phase.

The project was expected to be functional before the beginning of 2021/22 financial year.

According to Majoro last year in August, the installation of water supply infrastructure (raw water tank and pumps) for Tsikoane and Hlotse treatment plants that was intended to harmonise the two systems, in order to improve the health and living conditions of communities in the Tsikoane area through the development of sustainable water supply and sanitation services, was designed to serve a projected population of 18000 by 2035.

He said, “1M1 reinforced concrete bulk reservoir, 60M3 reinforced concrete collection tank, six pressed steel tanks with capacity ranging from 100M3 to 400M3, over 100KM length of pipe work in the pipes, pumping main gravity mains and reticulations systems.

“Installation of submersible pump and associated control device in six boreholes; construction of six boreholes chambers, construction of pump station and operation buildings, installation of three surface pumps (two duty and one standby).

“Installation of aeration and chlorination system, installation of telemetry system for automated operation for pumps, construction of about 5km length of access road to boreholes, collection tank and bulk reservoir, construction of 2500 Ventilated Improved Pit latrines (VIP),” he said.

He highlighted the challenges “Project completed in 2017/18 financial year. The infrastructure network, reticulation, reservoirs are all in place however, they are not operational since they cannot provide the community with water. The new treatment plant is not yet connected to already existing plant to ease work. This could be the result of the system which was not tested to detect its functionality of water and assess the water demand level in that area since the project was supposed to provide water to both Hlotse town and Tsikoane,” she said.

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