The pipeline contract commenced last October and is slated for completion in October 2013.
The contractor, China State Construction and Engineering Corporation in a joint venture partnership with Excavator Hire, has already done 14 percent of the work instead of the expected 31 percent.
Excavator Hire assistant general manager Botshelo Majane told a stakeholders' workshop in Palapye that they are already behind schedule, seven months into the project.
He, however, assured that they will do their best to catch up. He said pipe supplies from a Palapye factory took long to meet the required quality standards.
He said at some point the issue halted progress for two months. He revealed that the factory eventually met the standards, and from April to date, they have installed eight kilometres of the pipe.
"We have embarked on three working fronts to cover up for lost time. We have increased our working time," he said.
He, however, expressed fear that blasting may cause another delay in the project, especially from Letsibogo Dam to Moralane, given the blasting specifications in situations where pipes run parallel. The new pipe runs parallel to the North South Carrier (NSC) pipeline. This means that if blasting affects the NSC pipe, a major part of the country would go thirsty.
He also cited delays in the delivery of goods like valves which they ordered from China, and are expecting in September.
"Valves from China have to be thoroughly investigated by engineers before we can use them," he added.
Majane said they currently have 350 employees, 75 of whom are expatriates from China. He further revealed that while they await work permits for the Chinese personnel, they processed temporary permits so that work on the project can continue.
He added that it is very important for Excavator Hire, a citizen company, to embark on a joint venture with the Chinese company because of the financial power and expertise the Asians possess.
The two year pipeline project cost government P1,127,174,728. The project component comprises the construction of a 1.2 metre diameter steel pipeline and associated works from Dikgatlhong Dam to Moralane, a break pressure point, a pump station and a feeder tank.
The work further entails the construction of fibre optic ducting and provision of an electrical and mechanical plant by a nominated subcontractor. So far the contractor has excavated pipe trenches approximating 16 kilometres, and laid down foundation works for the pump station at Dikgatlhong Dam. The contractor has also installed pipes and welding for about five kilometres.