Aggrieved local contractors have accused the management of Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) of colluding with Chinese construction companies in the awarding of lucrative tenders, while local companies are side-lined in almost 90 percent of projects.
The allegations levelled against BHC have been raised by local contractors who complain that local companies are seldom awarded BHC tenders, particularly under the PPADB’s category E which is for unlimited jobs. The companies inform The Botswana Gazette that BHC, uses as a pretext, allegations that local companies under-perform without substantiating the claim. In contrast, several of the Chinese companies favoured by BHC have in the past, failed to deliver to expectations.
Investigations have revealed that most of the favoured companies, while registered under different directors, are under the same management. Local contractors have complained about BHC’s adjudication system and inconsistency in the evaluation process. ‘‘One moment they judge contractors according to price but when it suits their preference, they award a project based on the fact that they have done a BHC project before,’’ a local contractor who asked for anonymity said. He noted that it was worrying that BHC tended to conveniently ignore that only PPADB can determine the capability of a contractor and once a local contractor is awarded category E it goes without saying that PPADB has recognised that they have the same capacity as those who may have joined the industry earlier.
Local contractors have also alleged that on the rare occasion where a citizen-owned company is awarded a tender, “… you get to the construction site you find a Chinese company doing the job”. They blamed project managers and BHC management for not cracking the whip on local companies that front for foreign contractors. ‘‘How are we empowering Batswana contractors when they get left-overs for their rightfully registered companies,’’ wondered one contractor.
Sources have revealed that there are currently BHC projects running at Tati Siding, 100 houses (divided into two contracts), one infrastructure project and 50 houses in Tutume. These projects are run by one Quantity Surveyor from BHC Head Office, when he is supposed to be supervising his juniors. ‘‘What is his interest in these projects? He is involved in payments, costs variations, inspections. Why can’t BHC engage project management specialists to do the job?’’, the contractor mused.
Questions sent to BHC public relations office, Tebogo Mmokele were not responded to at time of press.