Alindo Engineering and General Maintenance (Pty) Ltd is a very lucky company indeed. The company keeps on getting jobs with the Department of Technical Services (DTS) but the company rarely ever complete jobs. In the last three years they have been given jobs to the tune of P78 million and only one of the four projects the company was awarded is near completion.
Alindo Engineering is owned by aspiring Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) treasurer. The project completion for the projects stands at 25% (two years overdue for completion) – 90% (two years overdue for completion) – 3.5% (behind schedule by seven months) – and 100 % (final report yet to be handed over).
Pressure from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has forced the DTS to instruct government lawyers to demand over P6 million owed to Government from the first project. Two other projects have also been red flagged for termination because of poor implementation albeit he has been paid million as part payment for the undelivered projects. According to records, Alindo Engineering keeps on getting jobs despite its record of failing to deliver projects.
The 25% progress after three years
He was given a job for the construction of 4No. Double Storey 4 units staff houses for Maiteko Junior secondary School at the tune of P18 894 333. 47 on 31 March 2014 and he was expected to complete the projected on 05-01-2015 and later date was revised to 19-01-2015. The project as things stand is still at 25 percent completion despite the fact that he has already been paid P8 933, 077.59.
Explaining the back and forth, DTS writes: “The contractor abandoned the project since September 2015 to date. He owes the Government P6, 188, 884.01 which accrued from rejected works and unpaid mobilization. On 2nd May 2017 DTS wrote to the contractor to state how he is going to pay the Government the money he is due to pay. He wrote back on 26th May 2017 stating that the money will be paid by a proposed assignee.
The mobilization was waived to stabilise the contractor’s cash flow problems with a hope the contractor will complete the project. This decision was guided by FIDIC, (The International Federation of Consulting Engineers) clause 3.5 which state that “the conditions provide that the Engineer shall proceed to agree or determine any matter, the Engineer shall consult with each party in an endeavor to reach agreement. If agreement is not achieved, the Engineer shall make a fair determination in accordance with the contract, taking due regard of all relevant circumstances.” Attorney General’s Chambers will be contacted to assist in recovering the money owed.
The only completed project
Alindo Engineering and General Maintenance Pty Ltd also worked on the construction of staff houses at Marakanelo JSS at Ncojane. The contract sum is P10, 714, 659.20 and the contractor was paid P5, 077, 897.25. The project was awarded on 10th April 2014 and was expected to be completed on 05 December 2014 but the completion date was later revised to 25 March 2015. While the status of the project is that it has been completed, the briefing notes indicate that the final account for the project will be concluded and finalized in the second quarter of 2017/2018.
Stuck at 90% progress for four years!
On the 11th November 2013, he was given a project to refurbish the Curriculum Development Building, in Gaborone at the tune of P5, 932, 710.93 and he was paid P5, 422, 627.67. He was to complete the project on 28 April 2014 and the project completion date was revised to 30 August 2016. Today the project progress stands at 90 percent completion.
This is howDTS explains this situation: “The contractor is struggling to complete the contract. He was a written a letter of Notice to terminate on 4th July 2015 which he replied on 9th July 2015 by opting for mutual termination. He was invited for a meeting on 31 August 2015 to discuss mutual termination but never attended or replied the invitation letter.
On 6th April 2017 he was written a letter of Notice to Terminate and replied on 26th April 2017, he further wrote on 23 May 2017 requesting for inspection and subsequent handover of the project. On the 13th June 2017 DTS team visited the project for final inspection, but on arrival on site they noticed that contractor did not finish the works. He further pleaded that he will complete by end of June 2017. After June 2017 if the work is not complete, contract will be terminated.”
Shocking 3.5% progress in six months
On 1st December 2016 the same contractor was awarded a job to construct 9No 2beds Double Storey and 2No LA3 staff houses for Moeding College at Otse at the value of P43, 000, 062. 71 and was paid P6, 945, 543.55. The expected completion date for the project is 31st December 2017 and at the moment the project is at 3.5 percent completion.
And the DTS explanation: “DTS wrote a letter on 15th May 2017 requesting to meet the Contractor and Client (Moeding Colege) on the 22nd May 2017 top discuss poor progress of the project. After holding the meeting on 22nd May 2017 Moeding Colege wrote to the contractor requesting for recovery plan or catch up plan from the contractor. On the 9th June 2017 the contractor wrote proposing to subcontract works. On the 13th June 2017 DTS responded seeking clarity pertaining to the contractor’s proposal.
On the 14th June 2017 DTS team visited the site and observed that the progress on site is still at 3.5 percent. DTS has visited the site again and still found that the progress is still at 3.5 percent. This poor performance of the contractor has been referred to the UCCSA Board of Governors so that appropriate action on contractual obligations and possible act on non-performance by the contractor.”
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.