The neglected Curriculum Development and Evaluation property belonging to the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) is haunting government as the ministry is losing millions of Pula’s in rentals paid to private property occupied at Fairgrounds, The Patriot on Sunday can reveal.
Impeccable sources within the ministry told this publication that the building has been neglected for seven years now after the contractor awarded the tender pocketed millions of pula and disappeared.
According to sources the original tender amount for the refurbishment of Curriculum Building was P 5 932 710.92 million but was later revised to P 6. 648 million. MoBE Chief Public Relations Officer Oarabile Phefo said a local contractor who was involved for the refurbishment of the building was awarded a contract worth P6 648, 844 million, but failed to complete the project. Consequently, the Curriculum department has been forced to pay exorbitant rentals at some private property at Fairgrounds, while the MOBE offices are situated at Government Enclave in Gaborone.
“It is true that the Department of Curriculum Development and Evaluation is leasing plot 50369 Tholo House at Fair Ground Holdings. But, the then Department of Out of School is based at the Ministry Headquarters with Department of Basic Education,” Phefo said in an interview.
Asked on the rental costs arising from the private property, Phefo confirmed that indeed property rentals are quite high but could not disclose the figures adding that ideally all the ministerial divisions could be under one roof but due to space constraints it is not the case. “Please note that the current Ministry Headquarters also accommodates other ministries including Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOTE) and the Departments of Information Technology plus the Department of Mines,” Phefo explained.
A recent site visit by The Patriot on Sunday team uncovered a terrible state of disrepair in the property despite a multi-million pula tender awarded for refurbishment. The building is turning into a veld with nearby residents decrying that it has turned into breeding ground for all forms of crimes while the property is being vandalised.
Ray Phosa, Chairperson of Extension Cell E flats said the abandoned building has since turned into a breeding ground for all forms of criminal delinquencies thus exposing them to danger. He indicated that the criminals who terrorize their neighbourhood have found a hiding place in the building at night, while targeting flats dwellers.
Sources claim that everything collapsed when the contractor wnet for months without paying workers, who later resorted to self help, looting building materials materials and other equipment. “The ministry has since dumped the process of renovating the structure citing insufficient funds after the contractor who was engaged to do it abandoned the project. There has been concerns that the structure must be serviced so as to reduce rental burdens for ministry,” a source said.
According to Phefo, the Ministry is currently completing the renovations to the property with the view for the Department of Curriculum Development and re-occupy it in the near future.
The Ministry anticipates to complete the refurbishment project by December. “The contractor had undertaken and completed some of the works assigned as per the scope given at the time and considering the time the contractor took on the project, a decision was taken to close the project and part ways with Contractor who was awarded a tender, “ he said.
The closure of project, Phefo said, has allowed the Ministry to plan for the completion of the project through insourcing, thus using of Ministry’s Engineers and Technicians to complete the remaining works and readying the building for occupation by MOTE by end of December 2020.
A Real Estate expert said government should consider to conduct a thorough land audit to establish the quantity and location of all neglected government properties to avoid fraud. “Such audit will enable government to have a detailed record of its properties that needs to be refurbished. Poor track or record keeping of property in government systems mostly leads to overcharging by contractors when engaged for refurbishment tenders, “said Real Estate expert.