The battle for the multibillion Pula North South Water Carrier project (NSCII) has claimed the career of one of the most decorated engineers, Thatayaone Dedede, who has been demoted from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services (MLWS) to a junior post of Deputy Director at Botswana Public Service College.
Dedede was transferred with immediate effect last week Friday after he queried the termination of a contract awarded to China Jiangsu International for the design and building of a water distribution network, sanitation reticulation, telemetry and SCADA and associated works in Maun. He is alleged to have been against the decision to re-award the tender to Zhengtai Group while the matter is still before the courts, cautioning that the reasons given for the cancellation of the tender were not sufficient.
On the 28th March 2019 China Jiangsu approached the High Court interdicting PPADB from awarding the tender to Zhengtai Group. The temporary order states that pending the dissolution of an interim interdict the Ministry will not enter into any contract with Zhengtai Group in respect of the Tender No PR/10/1/13/16 (II) – for the design, supply and build of water distribution network, sanitation reticulation, telementary and SCADA and other associated works in Maun. Although they were aware of the interim interdict, and against the advice of Project Management Officers (PMOs), the Ministry disregarded the court order and went ahead with re-awarding the tender to Zhengtai Group allegedly implementing an instruction from the Office of the President (OP).
According to a confidential letter dated April 2, 2019 from the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), Peter Magosi addressed to the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services; the Ministry was advised to terminate all deals with the company due to security reasons. “Pursuant to the Intelligence and Security Act, this Directorate has been following the activities of China Jiangsu International, a company incorporated in Botswana. The intelligence gathered thus far suggests that the above company has been involved in activities that border on the threat to national security,” reads part of the letter.
The Attorney General’s Chambers, which is representing government in the lawsuit by China Jiangsu, has failed to provide the latter with evidence to support claims that awarding the tender to the company poses a national security threat. Therefore, through their lawyers, Monthe Marumo Attorneys the Chinese state-owned company is demanding that both DIS and PPADB show them the evidence that they are involved in corruption and also pose national security threat by May 6, 2019.
Project Management Officers (PMOs) are said to have raised a concern that if government decides to terminate the tender it awarded to China Jiansu, they should call for new bids by floating the tender again because Zhengtai Group was way too expensive. China Jiangsu had won the tender at the value of P1.5 billion with Zhengtai Group second with P1.8 billion, a difference of P300 million.
PMOs, with the support of Dedede, are said to have complained that it does not make economic sense to award the tender to Zhengtai Group but were told it is an instruction from the Office of the President.
Dedede, a civil engineer by profession, was once the Chief Water Engineer -Projects at the same ministry in charge of mega projects especially NSC I.
P1.3b Masama project
Meanwhile the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services (MLWS) has been instructed to suspend the awarding of the P1.3 billion Masama/Mmamashia pipeline project as Office of the President is not happy with the three companies shortlisted for technical evaluation. The tender was supposed to have been submitted to PPADB for financial evaluation.
Early this year PMOs together with Dedede were summoned by the Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi and the responsible Minister Kefentse Mzwinila regarding a technical evaluation undertaken by the consultant Bergstan Consulting Engineers for the P1.3 billion Masama/Mmamashia pipeline. Bergstan Consulting Engineers in December last year evaluated 23 bidders for the Masama/Mmamashia pipeline and shortlisted three companies for technical evaluation. The consultants presented a technical report shortlisting WBHO, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and China Jiangsu/ Unik Joint Venture. The three companies were supposed to proceed to the next stage for financial evaluation.
Morupisi is alleged to have informed Dedede and his officers that they must re-do the technical report as some of the companies shortlisted were not supposed to be there. “We were instructed to re-do the technical evaluation as PMOs when they knew we didn’t have the capacity to do that. The reason they don’t want Bergstan is because they would not be bulldozed by people without technical know-how and with us it will be easy to manipulate the outcome,” revealed a highly placed source.
Sources at Government Enclave have also revealed that the three companies are not favoured by some technocrats within government as they have in the past refused to grease palms of some officials after winning tenders.
The entire project NSC 2.2 from Palapye to Mmamashia Treatment Plant (270km) has four contracts; contracts 01-04. Masama to Mmamashia pipeline will cost P1.3 billion, Mahalapye to Masama P1.1 billion, and Palapye to Mahalapye 1.3 billion. The last one is associated feeder tanks and break pressure tanks which will cost P800 million.
NSC II will bring 120 mega litres of water per day down the pipeline with 110 mega litres per day reaching Mmamashia Water Treatment Plant Works. The 110 mega litres per day will ensure water security within the eastern corridor all the way to Sekhutlhane. The other 10 mega litres will remain at Mahalapye to supply Tswapong South villages.
Contacted for comment PSP Morupisi vehemently denied that Dedede has been demoted insisting that his transfer has nothing to do with the NSCII project. “It is not a demotion but rather a transfer,” he responded.
Asked about allegations that OP is interfering in the awarding of the multibillion tenders, Morupisi said that there are processes followed when tenders are awarded and those processes have nothing to do with his office. “I don’t even have an idea if the Masama-Mmamashia tender has been cancelled,” he said.