Strained relationships due to professional differences between engineers and artisans at the Department of Building and Engineering Services (DBES) in Lobatse has led to the latter group being transferred to rural areas.
The department has the portfolio responsibility for government building development projects, their associated infrastructure, engineering services and the maintenance of government building, electrical and mechanical stock. Mmegi has learnt that the differences emanate from what artisans refer to as ‘undoable and risky orders’ from the department’s engineers. Lobatse DBES has about eight engineers and four artisans.
The relationships are so bad that it has led to the unceremonious transfer of the artisans to remote areas as a form of punishment for their insubordination.
The transfer swoop happened after the engineers allegedly reported artisans to top management accusing them of not taking orders. It is understood that they also alerted the leadership of broken relations between them and the artisans.
“I think the relations are broken, maybe the good thing to do is to part,” said an engineer who preferred anonymity for fear of reprisal.
One of the affected artisans confirmed the strained relationships. “The problem started with roofing of DBES offices here in Lobatse. Artisans did not agree with some orders from the engineers which they considered risky and irresponsible,” he told Mmegi.
He explained that the engineers wanted to force them to roof a building without an approved plan. “Moreover the rafters have been lying over the building for months and lost quality due to rain. We told them that we are professionals and our advice or views should be taken into consideration because if anything bad happens it will be our professional reputation that suffers,” he said.
The artisans complain that they were not given an opportunity to defend themselves against their immediate supervisors. “We only saw letters of transfer as a result,” disclosed one of them. The letters were written in August and notified the artisans of their transfers to Charleshill, Gumare, Hukuntsi, Tonota and Francistown.
Contacted for comment on the allegations, the head of department, Benjamin Moumakwe declined and referred Mmegi to head office. “I cannot comment on that matter because I have not been authorised to speak to the media. Please contact our head office for guidance,” he said.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Dikagiso Mokotedi promised that he would investigate the matter. “I am not aware of the issues at Lobatse and I will look into the allegations.
What I know is that the transfer issues are not linked to any such allegations,” said Mokotedi.
He explained that some people have been at the same stations for a long time hence the transfers.
The agitated artisans conceded that they have been there for some time but argued that the transfers only affect those who refused to take engineers orders.