The Project Manager of the North West Transmission Grid Connection (NWGTC) at Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), George Moeti has said the overall project progress is 73% as at July against the initial target of 86%.
He updated journalists in the sidelines of the media tour of NWGTC Letlhakane substation on Wednesday indicating that there are already recovery plans in place to catch up on lost time.
“The delayed contractors have since requested extension of time and these are under review. However, it is evident that progress has picked up so far,” he said hopeful for completion soon.
Government through Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has invested about P2.4 billion on infrastructure to connect the northwest part of the country to the national electricity grid.
The areas to be connected to the grid such as Ghanzi and Chobe districts are currently being supplied with power from Namibia through cross border distribution networks but with limited capacity.
Moeti went on to say that the manufacturing equipment and materials started in March 2018 is 95% complete, were bought from places such as India,China,Italy including Botswana as well.
He revealed that the engaged contractors have also committed to undertake or adhere towards the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) policy to procure the local made manufactured goods.
’’ The contractors also engaged the citizen owned companies to provide transport for these equipment and materials from the port of entries to site as well as clearing agencies. Civil works aggregates, machinery and other materials are being sourced outside Botswana, said Moeti.
Speaking to employment creation opportunities he said the NWTGC project has date employed 2,224 Batswana some as engineers, supervisors, technicians, mobile equipment operators and graduates just to mention but a few.
He however, expressed worry that some of international engaged contractors are at some point reluctant to engage locals citing that they complained on local language being a barrier for that.
“We couldn’t then not take action for those companies that had decided to use language as a barrier as defense of not employing the citizens. It has been emphasised that the project should fully to a large extent benefit the locals,” he said
He also reiterated that more jobs are in the pipeline as key construction activities such as tower assembly tower and erection continues to take shape.
Some of the challenges that he cited to be of paramount in the project delay include poor soil drainage in the Letlhakane substation which has posed threat to some people’s lives before.
In the Ghanzi district he decried of rocky soil surface that makes it clear for bush clearing as well as erecting of the towers, but pointing out that suitable machinery has been lined up for work.
The NWTGC is divided into two (2) phases with phase 1 which is 400/220/132kv transmission lines from Morupule B to Letlhakane/Orapa, Maun, Toteng, Gumare, Samochima and Ghanzi including the associated substations.
Phase transmission lines ranges from Phokoje substation to Dukwi whilst the Pandamatenga and Kasane including associated substations are currently on hold due to financial constraints.