New technology cuts building costs

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Moladi, a cost-effective building technology was launched at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) on Thursday. This is a building technology that has been adopted from South Africa.

Speaking at the launch, one of the representatives of the company, Dithologo Mmile, said the Moladi formwork construction system is an alternative to the conventional "brick and mortar" method of constructing houses.

 According to him, it has been shown that with Moladi, the cost of construction can be reduced by 40 percent. Mmile said because housing development typically involve the construction of numerous identical houses, they are suited to a system such as Moladi, whose cost-efficiency is only unlocked by the mass production of such projects. 

He said because the system is lightweight  and easy to move about and assemble, the entire super structure walls of a basic house can be completed in a matter of days. "With this system, the likelihood of delays, together with associated costs, is significantly reduced," he said.

The materials, he said, are sourced in the locality of the project. "This limits the costs of transportation, which accounts for a significant portion of the cost of the materials and their delivery to the construction site," he said.
Mmile said the use of unskilled labour within the locality of the project will create jobs and improve household income in the local community.  He said this will complement the government's drive to eradicate poverty amongst Batswana as well as reduce rural-urban migration which often tends to place more strain on already limited resources in urban areas. 

Mmile noted that the benefits that the Moladi formwork construction system brings has been recognised through many awards.

The Moladi system, he said, has been approved by the South African Bureau of Standards as well as the South African National Home Builders Registration Council.

Mmile told the launch that the lack of decent housing is a problem that millions of people all over the world - especially in developing countries - are faced with. "In fact by aiming for a significant improvement of the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2015, Target 7.D of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals alludes to, among others, the centrality of decent housing to the human development cause. Our successive governments, have, over the years, in recognition of the importance of having decent housing, put in place various policies and programmes aimed at promoting and encouraging home ownership among the citizens of Botswana".

Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Lands and Housing, Nonofo Molefhi, said in an effort to combat shortage of housing, his ministry was directed by the president to ensure that Batswana have access to good quality shelter and housing at an affordable cost. 

Molefhi revealed that he has instructed the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) to look at the possibilities of bringing down the costs of construction. 

"This, therefore, necessitated the improvement of the existing housing programmes and development of new housing strategies," he said. 

Molefhi said the world financial crisis has revealed that the burden of development cannot be placed on the back of government alone. On that score, he said, government has in the past roped in the private sector to participate in the various schemes in order to enhance capabilities. 

He said private sector involvement is desirable and will always be sought as a vehicle for expanded services delivery. 

He sees an initiative such as Moladi, as being a welcome endeavour in affordable housing provision. "I understand the technology has the potential of significantly altering the landscape in the area of low-cost housing. Government values the involvement of the private sector and encourages them to develop more environmentally-friendly building technologies. I am informed that the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) will be partnering with Moladi Botswana Africa in utilising the Moladi building technology in an effort to scale down the cost of construction, and thereby allowing for greater volumes of property development," he said. 

He said as new entrants in the industry, the Moladi product is expected to be not only aesthetically appealing but should also comply with the codes, standards and regulations that government [has put in place for] the construction industry. "Without doubt, your product will have to compete with the well-established brick and mortar building technology". Molefhi said one of the challenges the company will have to deal with would be social acceptability of technology by Batswana. "It is a hurdle you will have to deal with," he said. He described Batswana as choosy and selective people. 

Molefhi assured the gathering that government is committed to reviewing laws and regulations that are not relevant to Botswana in order to create a conducive environment for the implementation of new building technologies.   He said while the government will be playing a facilitative role, the sponsoring companies will be expected to give Batswana value for their money with every unit built.

"We will endeavour to fast-track the bulk experimentation of these building systems in order to adopt their use". Molefhi said there is a political momentum to address squarely the national housing requirements. He said this is further enhanced by the interest of the range of private sectors-developers, financial institutions, workers' unions and land owners.

Editor's Comment
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