Auditor-General laments state of schools

Auditor General has expressed a concern at the state of educational facilities and staff houses across regions PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Auditor General has expressed a concern at the state of educational facilities and staff houses across regions PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The Auditor-General Pulane Letebele has expressed a concern at the state of educational facilities and staff houses across regions because of pending works and defects.

This is despite the fact that the ministry had disbursed P703 million to finance maintenance and expansion of educational facilities at 33 junior secondary schools in the financial years 2018/2019 and 2019/2020. As of December 20, 2019, P637 million had been spent on the projects which represented 91% of the total budget. However, according to Auditor-General, all the schools visited had already utilised more than 83% of their allocations. “In spite of the considerable expenditure incurred at the time, the educational facilities and staff houses were generally in a poor physical state across the regions, because of pending works and defects.

This could be an indication that the department did not ensure proper and adequate evaluation of pending works and defects. As a result, the remaining 17% of the individual budgets was not enough to fund the outstanding works as per the bills of quantities and the snag lists prepared for the defects liability period,” the audit state. “The department incurred cost overruns in the region of P16 million on five projects (Gaborone West- P1.3m, Matsheng P1.2m, Tshwaragano P6.3m, Denjebuya P1.5m, John Nswazwi P5.1m and Oodima P0.7m), emanating from the prolonged contracts period. None of the projects was executed within the 12-month period stipulated in the performance contract.

The contract extension period had attracted additional costs on insurance, performance bonds and many other unwarranted costs.” The report says the bills of quantities for maintenance projects at all the schools included in the audit scope, were not in line with the specific needs of each school, adding that data collection was not done in most of the schools. It was observed that in cases where the department had collected data, the exercise was done a couple of years prior to the commencement of the contracts, which then defeated the purpose of identifying the critical areas to be maintained at the time.

Letebele said measuring or data collections were not done at all in most of the schools. It added: “In cases where the department had attempted to collect data, a case in point is Tapologo CJSS wherein the bills of quantities included the replacement of the industrial kitchen heat extractor, whereas there was no need for replacement as the existing one was still in good condition.

As a result, the contractor had supplied the extractor and had left the new equipment on site. All cyclical maintenance projects (24) and expansion projects (nine), went way beyond the agreed contract period (six or 12, 45 months), and were still legally running at the time of audit.” As the ministry had already paid more than 83% (on average) of the contracts sum, this has made it difficult and costly to terminate contracts due to underperformance by contractors.

However, according to the report, the department was seized with these issues, and most of them were already out of site despite the fact that the facilities had multiple defects and pending works. On other developments, the department had already terminated four contracts, Kelemogile, Etsha/Okavango, Zwenshambe and Madawu JSSs), due to poor performance, which then escalated the costs budgeted for the affected projects. The report further says one area of concern related to painting works, wherein most contractors underperformed.

“Although the painting works in all schools were done, the peeling of paint was a common feature at academic blocks, staff houses and interior works such as ceilings. Some of the most affected facilities included: Moruakgomo, Mathiba, Zwenshambe, Makhubu, Diratsame, Baratani, Madawu, Nare Sereto, Boikhutso, Ramotswa, Gaborone West, Tapologo and Morama Junior Secondary schools. Public health risks were observed in some of the schools, where waste water was visible on the soil surface as a result of overflowing sewerage ponds, conservancy tanks and septic tanks around staff houses and academic areas. Such schools include; Tsodilo, Ngami, Gowa, Ngambao, Boikhutso, Tapologo JSS, Matsheng, Maitlamo, Tlhalogang, Maunatlala and Oodima JSSs.

The most critical health risks were observed at Gowa JSS and Ngambao JSS. At Gowa JSS the student hostels had algae trapped in between the building blocks due to the malfunctioning of the sewerage system. Waste water from the showers, toilets and storm water created algae ponds in between the blocks,” the report reveals. In the same school, it was also observed that dangerous species like snakes and bats had access to the rooftops through gaps created by incomplete ceilings works.

Therefore they could also gain access to students’ rooms through the closets as the top shelve compartments were not covered. The report says the department’s role in monitoring and supervision was inadequate, as the indicators of underperformance could not be averted.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up