The facelift project at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) is finally complete, five years later and P231 million above the original budget.
The airport was handed over to the Ministry of Transport and Communications this week.
With a target completion date of May 2010 the expansion project was originally awarded to Sinohydro in 2008 at a cost of P433 million.
In July 2012, government then terminated Sinohydro’s contract alleging failure to deliver the project on time and within specifications, but by then the Chinese company had already been paid P522 million.
A new contractor, Stefannuti and Stocks was engaged in May last year to perform remedial and completion works at the airport for an additional sum of P142 million, taking the total amount paid by government to P644 million against the original budget of P433 million.
Speaking at the handover ceremony on Tuesday, the political head at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST), Nonofo Molefhi said his ministry is working around the clock to ensure that mistakes are not repeated adding that they are currently implementing reforms to facilitate effective performance of the construction industry.
Permanent secretary at MIST, Dikagiso Mokotedi said the facility is designed to accommodate 976 passengers per peak hour and the runway is designed to accommodate Air Bus 380.
“Stefannuti Stocks Botswana (Pty) Ltd has managed to complete the project which they took over last year within timeframe. They were awarded a contract sum of P142 million to undertake remedial and completion works to the existing SSKIA terminal building and external works,” Mokotedi said.
The completion contract included the completion and remedial works for building works, external works, mechanical and electrical works as well as electronic or special systems.
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo said there is need to embrace the aviation sector as part of the strategic sectors that contribute to the growth of the economy and ultimately job creation.
“Aviation has become the primary means of transporting people and high value freight around the world. To date, over 2 billion passengers now travel by air. It is therefore critical to have a proper facility to accommodate and facilitate smooth operation of this sector,” he said.
Mabeo said the third phase of the airport expansion, which will include the completion and addition of escalators, VIP lounges and other required facilities, is yet to commence.
Despite the final handing over of the project, the government is still facing a two-pronged legal attack from the Chinese company with one case being heard at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in London while the second one is currently before local courts.
Aggrieved and dissatisfied by the decision to terminate the contract, which was later endorsed by a dispute adjudication board, Sinohydro referred the matter to the ICC. The ongoing case will be heard in 2016.
On the local front, government is engaged in another legal tussle with Sinohydro over the retrieval of a performance bond amounting to P43 million.