Citizen contractors urged to form consortia

• Minister commends the private sector for reaching out to the youth

Citizen contractors urged to form consortia
GABORONE 2 March 2021, Cars passing the under construction flyover site in Gaborone on 2 March 2021. (Pic: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/PRESS PHOTO)

The Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Mmusi Kgafela, has iterated government’s decision to empower citizen contractors in the construction industry.

 

“Award of maintenance contracts to citizen contractors will now be augmented through an increase in the number of projects targeted for unbundling and reservation of all maintenance works for citizens,” said Minister Kgafela said in Parliament when making his ministerial presentation to the Committee of Supply this week.

 

He told the House that his ministry intends to increase reservation for Category E works for citizen contractors but expressed concern about some contractors’ fronting. “I must hasten to point out that these efforts are sometimes undermined by some of our citizen contractors who are involved in fronting deals and misuse of mobilisation fees,” Kgafela noted.

In order to have citizen owned construction companies in business, the minister urged Batswana to form consortia and/ or joint ventures among themselves and also with non-citizens. “This will enable a larger number of citizens to directly benefit from jobs created in projects financed by public funds,” he said.

The minister applauded the private sector for coming on board to ensure youth participation in the construction industry, yielding 2142 jobs. “Since April 2020, the private sector has engaged 12 youth owned companies at the tune of P38, 233,375 in addition to 52 companies already engaged by government.”

Minister Kgafela said registration of professionals is proceeding well. The Quantity Surveyors Registration Council, the Architects Registration Council and the Engineers Registration Board have registered 162, 299 and 7,461 professionals respectively. The ministry now wants to adjust the laws that regulate the industry.

“I wish to also highlight that the Construction Industry Authority Bill, through which an authority for the registration and regulation of contractors shall be established, is now at an advanced stage,” Minister Kgafela reported. “Given the progress made so far, we envision that the draft bill shall be finalised and presented before the February 2022 session of Parliament.”

Botswana’s construction industry has been dominated by foreign owned companies, mainly South African since independence but lately Chinese joint ventures, that are awarded multi-million pula projects while local contractors play second fiddle.

It is therefore envisaged that by tightening laws and encouraging citizen empowerment, more citizen contactors will come on board.