Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST)
News
19.10.11
The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Mr Johnie Swartz recently addressed his Ministry staff at the Francistown and Maun Depots. In his address to staff, Minister Swartz emphasized the importance of them meeting more often to discuss and share ideas on how they can improve their work situation and deliver better results. He said having meetings more often could help them know each other more and build teams that could be more productive. Minister Swartz also called on members of staff to read all documents governing the civil service like the Public Service Act, General Orders, the Public Service Charter and others to keep themselves informed about what is expected of them at all times. He said reading these documents will empower them and help them become better and more informed civil servants. For their part, staff at both Maun and Francistown Depots promised the Minister that they will do their best to inform themselves about their conditions of service. They also informed him that they face challenges like shortage of transport which affects their service delivery. Some also informed the Minister that their progression to higher levels seems to be very slow as many stay for a very long time in the same salary scale. The Deputy Permanent Secretary (Corporate Services) Mr Jeff Siamisang who was part of the Minister’s delegation informed members of staff that the Ministry was aware of the situation and was ready to do all it can to help staff progress, saying the main challenge is shortage of posts. He however encouraged them not to despair as few will be moved up as and when posts become available. In addition to addressing staff, the Minister also toured Letsholathebe II Hospital and the Revenue office in Maun. The Letsholathebe Hospital is being maintained by staff from his Ministry, while the revenue office is still being construction under the supervision of his ministry. In the same trip, the Minister also addressed kgotla meetings in Nokaneng and Etsha 6 in the Ngami constituency, where he informed residents about the mandate of his Ministry. Other officers who accompanied the Minister included his Private Secretary Mr. Mooketsi Lesetedi, Ministry Public Relations Officer Mr. Christopher Nyanga and DBES Human Resources Manager Mr. Phodiso Emang.
07.10.11
The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Hon. Johnie Swartz says government is concerned by problems of lack of professionalism in the construction industry which has seen many government projects being characterized by poor workmanship, use of incomplete designs and poor project planning. Speaking at a Construction Pitso hosted by five Ministries on the 6th October 2011 in Gaborone, Minister Swartz said his Ministry’s project implementation activities have been facing serious challenges as many projects are not delivered on time, within budget and with the desired quality. The other four Ministries that were co-hosting the Construction Pitso alongside the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology were the ministries of Transport and Communications, Local Government, Lands and Housing and Minerals, Energy and Water Resources. Minister Swartz told his audience which included more than 300 participants from the private and parastatal construction sectors, that government is also concerned by poor project supervision by consultants whom the Ministry engages and pays to supervise projects in its behalf. This poor supervision has led to “premature dilapidation of Government buildings such as Dibete police station where among others, the building superstructure was observed to be slowly receding away from the substructure within a short space of time following completion of the same project. We have also discovered that the walls of one of our new Senior Secondary Schools have been built without brickforce to provide the necessary strength. This can only happen if somebody deliberately did a shoddy job and one wonders where the Consultant was when this happened. The use of incomplete designs and failure by both DBES Project Managers and Consultants to interrogate the designs has also been a serious problem to us. This has led to unnecessary cost escalations and/or a situation where Government is not in control of expenditure against projects. A good example here is the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport which was awarded at a contract value of about P433 million and currently is due to be completed at a contract value of approximately P520 million.” Minister Swartz also said that government was concerned that many projects were in the hands of foreigners with little participation by local contractors. He called upon local contractors to pull up their socks and make a meaningful contribution in the industry “Where are citizen companies? Do we take pleasure in seeing money paid by the Government being exported to countries where the companies originate? These are rhetorical questions which you could respond to as you interact in the Pitso. But please note that I do not have xenophobic tendencies,” said Minister Swartz. The Minister also took the opportunity to call upon the construction industry to rid itself of the stigma that it is a corrupt industry. He said the position of his Ministry was that corruption busting agencies should get busy and stem out this corruption if indeed it exists. He encouraged all who suspected anything to report and help with investigations if they can. As part of interventions by his Ministry to deliver quality projects to the people of Botswana, Minister Swartz said his Ministry has come up with some Quality Audit Teams who inspect any project before it is declared complete and ready for occupation. Documents Vetting Teams subject tender documents to thorough scrutiny before being advertised. The teams also scrutinize payment submissions from contractors before payments can be made. There is also a Performance Report for contractors and consultants, which shows how they executed the project, whether that was to the Ministry’s satisfaction or not. At the end Minister Swartz promised the participants at the Construction Pitso that their views will be considered if they are seen to be implementable. He encouraged them to speak freely and honestly so that their ideas can help improve the state of the construction industry in this country.
04.10.11
MINISTRY OF INFRASTRUCTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY HOSTS CONSTRUCTION PITSO The Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST) in collaboration with Ministries of Lands and Housing (MLH), Transport and Communications (MTC), Local Government (MLG), and Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MEWR) will on October 06, 2011 host a Construction Pitso at the GICC. The theme of the Pitso will be “Constructing the Economy Through Strategic Partnerships.” The aim of the Pitso is to dialogue with major stakeholders in the construction industry on how government and private consultants and contractors can help develop the industry. It has been observed in the recent past that government has not been happy with the performance of most consultants and contractors doing government projects. There have been problems of many projects going far beyond the original completion date, exceeding the initial budget in the process and at other times falling far too short of the expected quality. Government decided to respond by introducing some penalties for companies that do not do a proper job. These penalties include charging companies that fail to stick to contractual obligations if found guilty and having companies that do a poor job blacklisted and removed from the list of those to be considered for future government jobs. The consultants and contractors who from time to time are engaged by government also have some issues against government. In some cases they say payments for work done are processed late and that at times there are variations which occur when the project is in progress and that this delays project completion. These and more issues will be thrashed at the Pitso. The five government Ministries decided to co-host the Pitso because all of them are involved in the construction of government facilities like buildings, dams, roads and others. The other aim is for government to have common practices, standards and requirements for contractors and consultants doing government work. The Pitso will also provide an opportunity for government and the construction industry to look back at the previous construction Pitsos and review what has been achieved so far and even chart the way forward. About 300 delegates are expected to grace the Pitso. Honourable Minister Johnie Swartz of Infrastructure, Science and Technology will deliver the Official opening speech, while senior government officials and other officials from the parastatal and private sectors will make presentations on the state of the construction industry in Botswana and suggest ways of moving forward.
20.09.11
PERMANENT SECRETARY SAYS CONTRACTORS SHOULD HELP GOVERNMENT GET THE BEST FROM FEW FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR MAINTENANCE OF PROJECTS…. Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Permanent Secretary, Mr Carter Morupisi says government has now shifted focus from concentrating on construction of new projects to maintenance of existing projects. The Permanent Secretary said this at the opening of the just ended Building Botswana Conference and Exposition organized by players in the construction industry from the private sector. Mr Morupisi who performed the official opening of the conference said in the past, more concentration on construction of new projects tended to make government lose focus on maintenance of existing infrastructure. This has resulted in many buildings getting dilapidated. He said it was the view of government that maintenance of existing infrastructure should be given the same attention as new projects. Mr Morupisi therefore called on the major players in the construction industry being contractors and consultants that they should assist government in achieving this. He emphasized that assistance could be in the form of executing the maintenance projects on time and within budget since they are the ones who will be engaged to maintain the existing infrastructure. He regretted that in the recent past, performance of most construction companies has not been impressive. He urged them to up their game and also adjust to the new focus that government is adopting. The Permanent Secretary also acknowledged the role played by some officers in his Ministry, in the Department of Building and Engineering services that he says have also not helped the situation by either failing to plan properly for projects or have failed to supervise project implementation. The Permanent Secretary urged all players in the industry to put their house in order and deliver quality infrastructure to the nation.
12.09.11
MIST HOLDS A SUCCESSFUL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PITSO The Ministry of infrastructure, Science and Technology held a successful Science and Technology Pitso on 08 September 2011. As anticipated, most of the stakeholders invited from both government, private and academic sectors attended. Some members of parliament including the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly also graced the Pitso. When officially opening the Pitso, the Honourable Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Mr Johnie Swartz said the Pitso fulfills one of the mandates of his Ministry, being one that relates to serving as a regulatory body for the use of nuclear technology and coordinating Research, Science and Technology. He therefore emphasized that the aim of the Pitso was “to provide a platform for interaction with stakeholders on policy and future developments in the Science and Technology arena and other issues that can enhance its contribution to economic growth. The importance of science and technology as a tool in addressing emerging challenges such as food security, environmental degradation, poverty and health cannot be overemphasized and therefore a critical factor in development.” He also called upon all stakeholders to join hands in taking Science and Technology research in this country to the next level, “It is therefore imperative to use whatever scientific and technical knowledge at our disposal but at the same time generate knowledge that is unique to our specific circumstances/environment. This requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders. It is for this reason that we are all gathered here today to facilitate a common understanding on inclusive participation of all stakeholders in the implementation of the Research, Science, Technology and Innovation policy, in particular to articulate the role of government, academia and private sector - the so called “Triple Helix’’ in Research and Development.” After numerous and informative presentations and exchange of views, the Pitso ended with a launch of Botswana’s Science and technology research status report, and a draft summary of Botswana’s Revised National Policy on Research, Science, Technology and Innovation and an Implementation Plan.
05.09.11
THE MINISTRY OF INFRASTRUCTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY HOSTS THE FIRST EVER SCIENCE PITSO ON 08 SEPTEMBER 2011 The Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology will host the first ever Science Pitso in this country on 08 September 2011. As the Ministry mandated to coordinate science and technology research in Botswana, the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology has found it fit to call on scientists and other interested parties to converge at the Maharaja Conference Centre and discuss science and technology research and its future in this country. This will be a one day event whose theme will be; “The role of research, science, technology and innovation on economic development.” Other topics will touch on the role of the Private Sector, the Research, Science and Technology Innovation Policy, Technology Transfer and Commercialization, and Nuclear Technology Application in Botswana. The Pitso which is expected to bring about more than 200 delegates from government, the private sector and parastatals, aims to provide a platform for interaction between the Ministry and stakeholders to dialogue on Botswana’s research, science and technology landscape and also on policy and strategic direction for future development. Knowledgeable presenters from such organizations as BOTEC, RIPCO, Botswana Innovation Hub, Department of Radiation Protection, Department of Research, Science and Technology and reputable academic institutions like the University of Botswana and the Botswana International University of Science and Technology will grace the Pitso. The Pitso also aims to highlight efforts for inclusive participation of the public, private and academic sectors in research, funding and capacity development. The academia is seen as pivotal to scientific research because they can help streamline curriculum to guide development in science and technology. They will thus be prominently represented at this Pitso. The Pitso will also provide an opportunity for stakeholders to dialogue on the Science and Technology Policy to see how it can be improved or reviewed. There has been a lot of developments in the global arena in terms of science and technology research. This has led to a need to review the current Science and Technology in order to align it to current trends in world affairs. Lack of relevant infrastructure to implement the policy has in the past been identified by many as one of the impediments to the growth of science, technology and innovation research in this country. The Science Pitso therefore, offers an opportunity for stakeholders to share ideas, experiences and and expertise on what direction can be taken to move science and technology to the next level. The Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology intends to host the Pitso annually in order to allow stakeholders to regularly reflect on past recommendations and review any progress that could have been made.
26.08.11
MIST WILL NOT ACCEPT LOBATSE STADIUM UNLESS IT IS SATISFIED WITH THE QUALITY OF THE WORK DONE…. The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Mr. Dikagiso Mokotedi says the Ministry will not accept the Lobatse Stadium Soccer pitch until it is satisfied that the job has been done accordingly. Speaking recently during Minister Johnie Swartz’s tour of the stadium, Mr. Mokotedi said the time had come for contractors doing government projects to perform according to established international standards and meet customer expectations. The Lobatse Stadium which has cost 211 Million pula was officially opened a few months ago by visiting Malawian President Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika but was later found to have a poor drainage system in its soccer pitch. The contractor was thus required to re-do the job at its own cost. Part of the reason for the poor drainage was the poor mix of soil used in the pitch. The contractor is therefore remixing the soil to the required texture that would ease drainage of the pitch. The Ministry has of late been tough with contractors who take time to finish government projects and those who do not deliver the desired quality. During his now frequent tours, the Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Mr. Johnie Swartz always emphasize that government is now pushing for all those who do not do a good job to pay for their misdeeds. This also includes being recommended for delisting by the PPADB. Other projects that the Minister alongside the Deputy Permanent Secretary Mr. Mokotedi and the Permanent Secretary Mr. Carter Morupisi visited in the same period include the Department of Geological Survey in Lobatse, the Institute of Health Sciences Staff Housing at Block 6 in Gaborone, the Mass Media Complex, the MTTC Hotel School and the Parliament Offices that are being refurbished. The Department of Geological Survey headquarters is progressing well and almost complete but the Minister was not happy with the few months that have elapsed past the original completion date. The same thing applies to the MTTC Hotel School and the Institute of Health Sciences Staff Housing at Block 6 in Gaborone which have passed their initial completion dates by over a year now. The Minister warned that at the end of all these projects, an assessment will be done to determine who contributed to the delay and recommendations would be made to the PPADB for future award of contracts in relation to non-performing companies.
28.07.11
Minister Swartz Calls on Contractors to Finish Their Projects In Time….. The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology recently visited the Revenue office block in Selibe Phikwe, Mmadinare Senior Secondary School Sewer Ponds in Mmadinare, the Francistown Stadium and the Francistown International Airport Projects. During the two day tour of these on-going projects, which began on 14 July 2011 and ended on 15 July 2011, the Minister emphasized that government desires that all projects be finished in time and on budget without compromising quality. The Selibe Phikwe Revenue office Block and Staff Houses are about 98% complete. This is a project that was initially valued at P26 876 269.10 but now stands at about P40m. Part of the reason for this has been the variation of desirables as requested by the client Ministry (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning). The variation which was a result of new desires that needed to be added to the project contributed to the delay in the initial completion date of October 2010. The outstanding work that is still being attended to includes amongst others, the construction of banking hall counters, supply of banking trolleys, construction of public and staff entrance security cubicles, CCTV installations, BPC and BTC connections. The project is due for completion by end of August 2011. The Minister emphasized that the contractor should meet this deadline as agreed. The construction of the Mmadinare Senior Secondary School sewer Ponds was completed on 27 May 2011, at a total sum of P31 227 895.70. The Minister made a stopover at the completed sewer ponds to appreciate how the pond was like after his earlier visits to the site during the construction stage. In Francistown, the Minister toured the Francistown International Airport and the Francistown stadium. At the airport, the Minister was promised that the project should be ready for handover by July 31, 2011. The project is almost complete. It awaits minor attention there and there and final certification by DBES Technical Team. The Minister emphasized that the consultants and the contractor should make sure that the project is in good quality and ready for hand over on the anticipated date of 31 July 2011. As for the Francistown Stadium, the Minister was informed that two major issues were outstanding, being the soccer pitch and the athletics track. The two are currently being attended to. The Minister expressed concern that the completion of this project has been delayed for some time and the people of Francistown and Batswana in general were getting impatient. The Mayor of Francistown, Mr Shadreck Nyeku, who was also present with his councilors, echoed the Minister’s concerns and wanted to be given a date of when the Francistown stadium will be ready. The response from the contractor was that they expect to complete the project by March 2012.
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