Gordon Baxter an independent consultant who was hired by the Department of Engineering and Building Services (DEBS) to assist correct construction blunders on various stadium projects around the country said this in an interview with Mmegi Sport last Thursday. Baxter was among officials, including Minister of Infrastructure,Science and Technology (MIST) Johnnie Swartz who toured the Francistown Stadium, which has been under construction since 2007.
Construction and design blunders that have led to cost overruns and delays at the Lobatse, Gaborone and Francistown stadiums have raised questions over the country's ability to construct and oversee sports facilities of international standard."The scenario where there are construction blunders in big projects particularly stadiums is not unique: it happens all over the world.
It is just that in Botswana, there was an oversight when the projects were implemented. It does not mean that skills are not there to oversee big projects. When such situations arise, the best thing is to rectify mistakes and learn from them," he said.He further stated that the country has enough engineers, technicians and architects to supervise big projects like stadium constructions. He also stated that construction officials in the country should in future, maintain high sense of vigilance when supervising projects to avoid cost overruns and unnecessary delays when constructing, for example, stadiums.
The spokesperson from MIST Christopher Nyanga echoed Baxter's sentiments that the country has enough expertise to supervise and construct stadiums of international facilities.Meanwhile, Minister Swartz told a media briefing that the stadium might be ready in six months. He said the change-rooms have to be modified to accommodate a sizeable number of players as the current set-up accommodates only 11. He revealed that the VIP and media lounges also had to be modified.According to the minister the lounges do not allow the spectators to have a full view of the pitch."We are currently in negotiations with the contractor to see how the remaining work will be done. We hope the negotiations will end soon and construction begin, which will take nearly six months to complete," he said.
Swartz also noted that progress has been made on the pitch, which he said was not level during his last trip, late last year.The athletic track is also among things that will be re-done at the Francistown Stadium so that it meets the required standards.