Kweneng District Council (KDC) is one the biggest councils in Botswana and is home to Botswana’s largest village, Molepolole. Though the council is one of the oldest in the country, most of its residents have been complaining about lack of developments in the area.
The Patriot on Sunday paid a visit to the newly elected KDC chairman Jeffery Sibisibi, councillor for Ntloedibe ward one of the influential wards in Molepolole. The youthful looking chairman who is very energetic is optimistic they will turn around the prospects of KDC as it houses some villages which are part of the greater Gaborone being Gabane, Mmopane, Mogoditshane and Metsimotlhabe.
In 2012 government urged councils to venture into Private Public Partnerships (PPP) in their localities to generate revenue as the government was not able to meet all their financial needs. One of the first councils to venture into that partnership was Southern District Council through the construction of Mongala mall with Time Projects in Kanye which cost P60 million. It is still regarded as the most successful PPP to have happened in Botswana. Sibisisi said that as a way of raising funds for the council, they have formed Kweneng Ventures in 2014 whose aim will be the investment arm of KDC.
To ensure that their investment company is not tainted with partisan politics, Kweneng Ventures will be run by an independent board of directors and will be apolitical, said Sibisibi.“We have given them the go ahead to recruit the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and other officers who will take the company forward,” said KDC chairman.
He said they have taken the advantage of twining system and recently visited Kenya which is known for being one the best countries in producing world class coffee and tea. “We have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Nyeri County and will be exporting their coffee and be the regional coffee sellers within SADC,” said the excited Sibisisi, adding that this will be one of Kweneng Ventures’ first projects.
During their visit to Nyeri County which has a population of over 1.2 million people, Sibisibi noted that their area of interest was agriculture, tourism, information business sector development and waste management.
According to their website, Nyeri County is regarded as one of the giant food producers in Kenya and is the home to the country’s best coffee producers. Sibisibi revealed that they will be the sole distributors of the raw coffee for Nyeri farmers within the SADC region“Molepolole is one of the biggest villages in Botswana and we are still battling with issue of waste management and through PPP we will be able to achieve that,” he said.
Asked how, Sibisisi said that as a district council that is close to Gaborone, they will take advantage of the challenge that the capital city is facing with waste disposal by partnering with a waste management company for the use of the dumping site. “The waste site will be for commercial purpose and we can rake a lot of money from that venture,” he said. Botswana is well known for good policies and strategies to empower its communities, but struggle with implementation, Sibisibi acknowledges the challenge but was adamant they will achieve what they have envisioned.
Ministry of Local Government through Kweneng District Council awarded the P115 million tender for the construction of Molepolole bus terminal which commenced in 2012 to Estate Construction. Since its inception the project faced challenges and was supposed to be completed in August last year. Sibisibi said although the project faced some challenges it is now progressing well and they are expecting it to be handed over to council in July this year.
Asked at what percentage the project is, Sibisibi said it is at 85% but put to him that just a month ago it was at 68% and what could have accelerated it, he asked for time to verify with engineers. Recently when addressing council managements and government heads of department in Molepolole, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Mr Frans Van Der Westhuizen expressed concern at the slow progress of the project and that already council has already paid the contractor P110 million. Sibisibi maintains that most of the challenges that the project faced were due to shortage of water and materials.
The Molepolole bus terminal has attracted the corruption bust unit, Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) as there were suspicions that some of the prices were just inflated. The bus terminal though small in size from the Palapye Terminal was way too costly initially at P168 million which was brought down to P115 million while the latter was completed at a cost of P81, 102, 57.11. The KDC chairman was non-committal on his answer regarding the inflating of prices preferring to say that it is not unusual for people to raise their suspicion.
This is another project which is giving KDC sleepless nights as it is still behind schedule and Sibisi admitted that adding that they have spoken to the contractor to speed up his pace. The project which has cost KDC over P60 million is currently at 44% and is way behind schedule and one the factors that caused the delay was the disagreement between the contractor and the consultant on the construction method. Sibisibi said that they are expecting the construction to be completed in 2016 but could not specify the month.
Almost four years after its completion, the Gaborone/Metsimotlhabe dual road which cost government more than P400 million is in a sorry state, due to a disagreement between department of roads and transport and Kweneng District Council, The Patriot on Sunday has established.
After its completion the 13.7 kilometres stretch road was expected to ease traffic from Gaborone to Molepolole passing through Mogoditshane. Since it was handed over to Ministry of Transport and Communications, the traffic lights along the road have hardly worked some broken down and not repaired.
Realizing that they are struggling to maintain the road, the Department of Road approached KDC and wanted to hand them the road as it within their jurisdiction and regarded as internal road. Through the advice of their road engineers, Kweneng District Council is said to have demanded maintenance plan for the road. “The department of road failed to produce the maintenance plan and another concern that was raised by KDC was that they don’t have funds and enough manpower to maintain the said road,” said the source.
Asked about the allegations that they are refusing to inherit the project from department of roads, Sibisibi acknowledged that they had difficulties taking the project as there was no maintenance plan and fund for them. “Re latlhelelwa dilo hela mme re sa hiwe sepe! (they just want to throw the project to us without any funding),” he said as he burst into laughter. He said that they are currently negotiating with Department of Road on the way forward and was optimistic they will eventually take over the road maintenance.
“Currently we are in negotiations with them and hopefully we will take the road and its associates,” said KDC chairman.
The youthful Sibisibi views himself as an optimistic and pragmatic person and will ensure that whatever they have planned to do will be done. “We have to take advantage of being closer to Gaborone and ensure that we attract investors to our district as it is part of the greater Gaborone,” he said.
Another issue that he said he wants to address, is the constant taking of Kweneng land for the expansion of Gaborone noting that he wants that to be developed within their district so that they benefit a lot.