The Deputy Director of Roads Reason Lekutlane spent a better part of Tuesday on the firing line of North East District Council (NEDC) councilors who slammed him for the Tshesebe/Masunga road delay. This comes after it was announced earlier this year that the tender for the construction of the long awaited Tshesebe-Masunga road had been finally awarded. Funded to the tune of P430 million under the much-maligned Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), the 39km project, awarded to Basch Construction (Pty) Ltd, was expected to have started about six months ago. The area’s political leadership has now run out of patience after eagerly awaiting the start of the project. President Ian Khama was expected to conduct the groundbreaking ceremony on November 3 but that has not happened.
The councilors have had enough
“For years, the road has been a nightmare to us. And you are here to tell us to continue exercising restraint. No. Enough is enough. You should explain without failure why the road has delayed this far,” demanded Mosojane ward councilor, Smart Mbaakanyi. Over the years, Mbaakanyi said councilors have been complaining about the road and pleading for its construction. Now, the tender has been awarded, but delays are continuing, he lamented. William Tatosi of Senyawe ward said it was high time that the department responsible for the construction of the road, started respecting the intelligence and forbearance of the people of North East District. “Further delay of the road is equivalent to insulating the intelligence and tolerance of the people of the North East district. DRTS officials seem not to worry about the rights of the people this district at all,” lambasted Tatosi. Masunga ward councilor Elias Mbonini accused DRTS officials of doing everything within the department’s powers to delay, if not, stopping developmental projects earmarked for the northeastern part of the country. “This road connects a number of villages in the district. The road has got a potential of improving the agricultural sector in the area. And the DRTS seems to be against such an improvement for the better,” Mbonini added. In response, Lekutlane said the DRTS is making some frantic efforts to ensure that lost time is recovered. His said the delay was caused by the non-availability of borrowed material. “The Ministry on the 28 of November 2017 approved a variation order to enable the Roads Department to source out borrowed material from a commercial source to enable the contractor to mine the borrowed material,” he said. Lekutlane said the commercial source will be used as a temporary measure to curb the current standoff between the private prospecting license holders and the government. According to Lekutlane, the contractor was allowed to source borrowed material from the private borrow pit. Commercial source is when a commercial contractor is permitted to mine the ground and prepare the road to the borrow pit.