Khato Civils executive chairperson, Simbi Phiri says his company is living up to local economic empowerment expectations.
Khato has as part of the Water Utilities Corporation’s (WUC) P781 million Masama 100km tender ensured that P230 million is awarded to its citizen partner, Evolution Engineering as per the dictates of citizen economic empowerment.
Phiri said at the WUC’s Masama 100km infrastructure project ground breaking ceremony this week that he was deliberately spelling out his company’s contribution to real citizen economic empowerment.
He added there were not many in the field who contributed at the magnitude for the local economy and in particular for their local partners. Phiri also announced that in addition to awarding 30% of the tender to a local partner, his company had deliberately taken upon itself to pay its lowest grade of workers more than double the local industry standard of P1, 500 a month. Khato is going a distant to pay the workers not less than P3, 000 a month, additional overtimes, thus making the company the best paying in the industry by far, a trend he says is their trade mark wherever they carry out public works in Africa. Phiri also said they are further economically empowering local procurement entities, suppliers as well as engaging local sub-contractors. This is to ensure that significant amounts of money remain in the country rather than being shipped beyond abroad.
The executive chairperson stated he is also proudly paying back to the country where his mother comes from.
Phiri was born to a Tonota mother and grew up here, worked here, started business here before leaving for South Africa in 1993 where he founded construction and engineering companies, Khato Civils and South Zambezi. The Masama 100km project has employed about 400 people as of September 20, 2020 cumulatively.
A majority of the employees come from villages along the pipeline such as Masama, Artesia, Leshibitse, Bokaa, Rasesa and numerous cattle posts.
As well as providing jobs, empowering small businesses, Khato Civils has been praised by Kgatleng District Council chairperson, Dan Molokwe for further empowering the villages by arranging to pay them for boreholes from which the company draws water from.
On his part, Leshibitse headman, Mooketsi Tosh Kgotlele said the Khato’s water works project has further benefitted residents of cattle posts along the pipeline.
The cattle posts amongst others include Nokaneng, Linchwe 1, Linchwe II, Temesele, Lefarwe, Masama and Artesia.
Furthermore, another P2.5 million has been set aside by Khato Civils for corporate social responsibility projects in the villages along the pipeline. The funds will go towards building several community development facilities as suggested by the various villages’ leaderships led by dikgosi and Village Development Committees. For his part, Bakgatla regent, Bana Sekai Linchwe said many infrastructure projects were undertaken near the villages in the past, but without any tangible community social responsibility initiatives.
This he said changed when Khato Civils came on board and demonstrated the extent to which corporate entities can play their part, further urging other companies to take a leaf
Phiri said when his company first built blocks of classrooms and erected a fence at a graveyard in Mmadinare, where they had tender works, Khato Civils’ gesture of magnanimity was not welcomed by critics.
“Wherever we undertake projects we do more of these societal responsibilities and we will be doing them where ever we are engaged in Botswana, until it is appreciated as the norm,” Phiri said. The company boasts of investing over P5 million on social responsibility projects at their Limpopo water project as well as building over 500 homes and a brand new school in Malawi, amongst others.
When responding to Water Sector Minister, Kefentse Mzwinila’s plea to deliver the project timeously and with the best quality, Phiri said despite various challenges, the project was already ahead of schedule. Phiri said progress was at 34% and proceeding at great speed and with the best engineering and vast resources mobilised. He appreciated the urgent need for water in the region and the need to deliver a high quality finished product at the earliest time.
Meanwhile, Khato Civils country director, Ishmael Maposa said the company is bringing trail blazing excavation technology to the country.
Maposa said while normally companies use excavators that cover maximum of 400m per day, Khato Civils’ revolutionary and state-of-the-art trenching technology deploys four Italian-made tesmic trenchers going by the sobriquet, rock eaters.
He added the trenchers each easily covers two kilometres per day, bringing the total number of kilometres to eight per day.
He said they have deployed four of these at four various sections; each with its own distance to cover to ensure that the mission to deliver the water project is executed with the highest quality, efficiency and diligence.
Maposa said the four various sections of the project execution are like four companies, each with own resources, allocated to enable them to finish their various portions at speed and with the highest quality of execution.
Although the company is way ahead of schedule, Maposa said had it not been for the challenges brought about by COVID-19, which slowed progress for them, they would have covered more ground.
Maposa’s team oversaw engineers and technicians from South Africa having to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine, delivery of equipment and pipes stalling at the border, as well as having to overcome strict COVID-19 protocol adherence.
Project manager, Ntoloki Moleo explained that 55 chambers have been excavated and built, with 69 air valves also scheduled for construction after the completion of pipe laying in December.