Water Utilities corporation's director, technical services Ntshambiwa Moathodi says by awarding Khato Civils the Masama 100km pipeline project for P781 million, government saved more than P1.2 billion compared to the usual costs of similar large scale water projects in the country.
Moathodi was asked at a familiarisation tour of the Masama 100km water projects which is in the final touches stage ahead of handover next month, to give an estimate of the costs of similar projects under normal circumstances in Botswana, in order to appreciate the value of the Masama 100km project, to which he said, under normal circumstances such a project would be delivered in two years for not less than P2 billion. The project is being constructed within 12 months as an emergency project to enable government to deliver water not only for water stressed Gaborone and its surroundings but also to 23 villages of Goodhope constituency, as well as to end once and for all, Molepolole and its surrounding areas’long standing water problems.
The WUC director further explained that as soon as the Masama 100km pipeline project starts delivering water the Molepolole project, known as the Gamononyane pipeline and the 23 Goodhope villages water projects will also begin.
To the issue of costs. Moathodi says his estimate was informed by the cost estimates for similar 100km pipeline components of the North South water carrier 2.2, being the Moralane-mahalapye, Mahalapye-Masama, and Masama-Mmamashia components, which are yet to be tendered for, but each of which is estimated to cost P2 billion delivered in a period of two years each.
Moathodi further explained that the vast difference between the normal local market prices and the Masama 100km project can be appreciated.
Moathodi added that the various components of the North South water carrier 2.2 awarded recently such as the Mmamashia to Kgale, and Kgale to Lobatse, while less than 100km in length, each cost over a billion Pula, and close to a billion Pula, yet again reflecting the low cost of the Masama 100km pipeline which includes a lot of additional components and not just the pipeline.
Moathodi hailed Khato Civils for its engineering ingenuity, and amazing speed, and highlighted that besides some unfortunate delays which were beyond the contractor’s control, the project remains on target to be completed within the stipulated tight deadline and within budget.
The WUC technical director says while it was the corporation’s first to embark on a project of this magnitude under strict deadlines, the Water Utilities corporation is not only excited about the timely and smooth delivery of the work by the contractor, but perhaps most importantly the resounding success of the Masama 100km pipeline project has strengthened WUC ‘s resolve to adopt the similar low cost pricing regime for the rest of their mega water projects in future.”You will see in the next two years, we will be delivering similar projects just as cost effective, there is no doubt we can bring down the cost of mega water projects”. At the cost estimates of current local market price, we have not only been able to complete a complex 100km Masama project, we have also added a very big water treatment plant”, the WUC's technical director further explained.
Asked to whether WUC was not bothered by negative publicity around Khato Civils at the time of appointing the contractor for the Masama 100km, Moathodi said as WUC they didn’t rely so much on the negativity in the media, but rather decided to be pragmatic in their approach, including getting information from Khato Civils' previous client in Giyani, Lepelle, South Africa, as well as going there to see for themselves projects the contractor had completed. “ The conclusions that others had arrived at were based on the failure to appreciate Khato Civils' mandate at Giyani, the villagers expected water to be reticulated to their homes, but in reality the contractor’s mandate was to deliver bulk water to the tanks via a pipeline, all of that was done, which is really what we mandated them to do here, bulk water delivery to the treatment plant “, Moathodi said.
Phiri for his part opined that the success of projects like Masama 100km pipeline requires on site presence of company owners, adding that he had to literally relocate from Johannesburg to be on the site, observing first hand the progress of the project and taking decisive action swiftly to ensure the project is not hampered. “ The workers are not the problem, leadership can be the problem, otherwise Batswana are not lazy workers, they have delivered a state of the art engineering project today, I was working with many of them in the trenches", Phiri said.