Mmegi Online :: Consultant, govt in messy tussle over National Stadium
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Last Updated
Tuesday 27 June 2017, 23:25 pm.
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Consultant, govt in messy tussle over National Stadium

*Govt refuses to accept stadium
* Consultant challenges govt to go to court
* Only minor works carried out
By THATO KALA
Correspondent
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Consultant, govt in messy tussle over National Stadium








The controversy-ridden refurbishment of the National Stadium has hit a new low after a major disagreement between the government and lead consultant, Tectura International. The feud is likely to end in court after the government rejected the workmanship saying that even after repair, the facility does not meet FIFA standards. But Tectura International has countered that it was the government that compromised standards citing insufficient funds.

Initially, the stadium was to be re-built into a world class facility with a retractable roof, multi-purpose hall, a new softball diamond with a sitting capacity of 5,000, Television and radio transmission studios and practice halls at an estimated cost of P436 million. However, after some major omissions aimed at cost reduction, the figure was brought down to P60 million. The final brief constituted the construction works for the built area limited to mechanical, electrical and structural defects, the replacement of the athletics track, re-grassing of the soccer pitch and the multi-purpose hall. 

The consultant argues that government, through the Technical Reference Group (TRG), was party to critical decisions of design brief, scope of work and budget. The company denies that it omitted any designs as claimed by the government.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Carter Murupisi, insists that government will not accept an arena devoid of quality. "The stadium has been handed over by the contractor to the consultant, and not to us. We haven't accepted it, (especially) the pitch. We have only accepted the buildings, (because) we are satisfied with the offices, but the pitch is where the issue is. So the matter is between us and the consultant," Morupisi told Mmegi Sport in an exclusive interview.

He pointed out that government's bone of contention is the jaggedness of the pitch, which is said to be bumpy, and the poor drainage system. "We have issues with the drainage, evenness of the pitch - there are certain pockets of the pitch which are bumpy. Other structures have been completed and we have accepted those. The pitch does not drain properly. It's not giving us the expected output," he said.

But a representative of the consultant, Bendan Githae, is adamant that the TRG opted to sacrifice high standards prior to the commencement of the project because they felt P66 million would be too little to meet the required benchmark.

He disclosed that as the consultants, they were against the awarding of the tender to the lowest bidder because of a purported P5 million error. He stated that several introductions of post-contract variations were aimed at offsetting the miscalculation. Midway through the project, he said government digressed from the original scope of works in an effort to undertake omissions in a calculative manner. He is convinced that the attempts by the constructor to introduce new soccer pitch designs were a mere attempt to vary works under the pretext of FIFA standards which were not part of the fourth and final brief.

"We noticed when we were adjudicating that the constructor had an error of P5m and it would seem there was an arrangement with guys in government because there was no

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way he could have done the job with such a huge deficit. He (knew he) was going to recover from the pitch so we were deliberately told (that) the pitch would not be done to FIFA standards. In essence, when we started work, everybody knew there was no money to bring it (the stadium) to FIFA standards but nobody said it (at the time). Just when we started (the project), some government officials advised that we do it to FIFA standards. Fortunately, everybody refused to make that variation saying the money was not there in the beginning. Again, what was the reason for awarding the tender to this particular constructor without subjecting him to competition in terms of bidding?" Githae said.

Mmegi Sport sought government's position on the alleged irregularity in the tendering system and Morupisi said PPADB is in a better position to answer the query. According to the consultant, some of the variations that may have directly affected the pitch and drainage system include the re-introduction of irrigation system and the removal of the existing grass, which was allegedly left to die. He reckons it would have cost government a further P3 million to import grass from South Africa but this was not possible because there were no funds.

A report submitted by the consultants to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology by the consultant shows that the revised scope of works on 14 July 2008 meant there was no need to renovate the facility, but merely do touch-ups. However, the TRG felt the 'political repercussions would be too heavy since Batswana expected a modern new stadium'.

"It's a cover up, mistakes were done... very serious mistakes on the part of government and in trying to cover up, people have been looking for scapegoats and in the process, Batswana have been fed the wrong information. It came to a point where there was no reason to close the stadium because there was no money to do the renovations," Githae explained.

Efforts to get a comment from the constructor, Hitecon, drew blanks as a certain Jian, who was project manager, said they had handed over the stadium to government. "I will not comment about that my friend; the stadium was handed over to government and I have nothing to say," he responded.

As for the way forward Morupisi said: "These are contractual matters and when you have a contract with another party, you've got to respect the processes of managing the contract. You also share notes with the other party which we have done and we have proposed certain measures to the other party, which is debatable.  We can't just go ahead and fix the stadium without following proper procedures, that's why it has taken a bit of time for us to get all these things in place." The consultants have challenged the government to take the matter to court.

"Why have they not taken us to the courts? Because if we have a case, they should [have] taken us to the courts so we can defend ourselves? Who is holding the nation at ransom?" asked Githae.

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