Morupule A far behind schedule

SHARE   |   Monday, 21 November 2016   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
Morupule A far behind schedule

Botswana is caught up again in poor project management as Morupule A refurbishment which was expected to be completed in December 2017 is proving to be unrealistic dream as The Patriot on Sunday investigates. The tender was awarded to South Korean company Doosan Heavy Industries and cost government $204 million (P2.5 billion). There is fear among the Murray and Roberts Power and Energy engineers that the cost of the project will escalate as they won’t be able to meet the December 2017 deadline. “The project will probably be completed in 2019 as it is currently way behind schedule and the cost might shoot to P4 billion,” revealed an engineer on site at the power station in Palapye.

Project Scope & Plan
Under the contract, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction which has engaged Murray and Roberts Power & Energy as the main contract would replace and repair turbines and boilers in the Morupule A power plant. Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction is said to have drawn up a new plan for the plant, which is alleged to be not fitting into the existing structures. One of the challenges that Murray and Roberts engineers are facing is that the scope of work is changing every week breeding confusion. According to the report by Murray and Roberts engineers the new flue Gas Handling system drawings are not matching the existing structures and that there is poor quality of work. One of the equipment which was supposed to be replaced as per the agreement is the coal feeders but is now serviced internally. “Most of the equipment which are currently needed are not available due to the six month Expected Time of Arrival (ETA) of material because initial inspections have not been carried out to determine what needs to be ordered,” reads part of the report. Currently only 25% of the materials have already arrived at the site and this is said to be hampering progress as some work has been stalled due to lack of materials.

Local Engineers vs Expatriates
Currently Murray and Roberts have employed seven supervising engineers of which three are locals while the rest are from South Africa. The locals are Tonny Thumba, Charles Smith and Moitela Othusitse while the South Africans are Charles Rudolph, At Lange, Ronny Morgan and Charles Du Preez. Documents seen by The Patriot on Sunday show that despite being more qualified than their expatriate colleagues the local engineers are paid less than a quarter of the remuneration of their South African counterparts on the project. The highest paid local engineer earns P16 000 per month while the highest paid South African earns P70, 000 per month . “Local engineers are also earning less than their Thailand juniors. They are not even given housing allowances like their expatriate counterparts,” said source at the plant. This is said to have led to low morale among the locals, which leads to poor productivity as shown by the progress report. According to the September Progress and Productivity Summary report, Progress stood at only 18.1 percent against the planned 48.3 percent, which is a variance of -30.22 percent. Productivity on the other hand stood at 91.3 percent against the planned 100% with a variance of -8.7 percent. The worst case scenario is an engineer who has planned to achieve 71% progress but only achieved 4.9 percent, a variance of a whooping -66.51 percent. Last week some South African workers Gerard Edwards and Ismael Marshal were arrested by the officials from the department of immigration but this week returned to work.

While government through Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has been insisting that companies must source materials locally as part of citizen empowerment, the opposite is happening at the refurbishment of the multibillion pula Morupule A power plant. South African company Rentech has been contracted to supply equipment available locally including safety clothing, bulbs and generators. Only Selibe Phikwe based Motor Rewind has been awarded some works at the project.

Murray & Roberts Power and Energy
The company was engaged by Doosan Heavy Industries to carry out the construction of the plant as they have experience in the field. They are currently contracted to Hitachi Power Africa for the Medupi and Kusile boiler packages comprising 12 units of about 800 megawatt electrical (MWe) each. The Murray & Roberts scope includes structural steel fabrication, erection and mechanical installation works. A highly placed source at the company has confided that there is a feeling that the Korean Company is compromising their work by failing to deliver material on time. “They are supposed to procure equipment but are dragging their feet. This is really frustrating to us,” said the source. Efforts to get comment from Site Manager Udo Strahlendorf failed as he did not respond to a questionnaire sent to him through mail, which was also copied to Human Resource Manager Paul Kelailwe on Monday. His mobile phone was off air at the time of going to print.