24 August 2009

Botswana: Dikgatlhong Dam Behind Schedule

The construction of Dikgatlhong Dam, which is expected to alleviate the water problem countrywide, is eight months behind schedule.

Construction of the dam started in March last year but the contractor says the unexpected heavy rains in June have pushed the project back by some eight months.

Principal resident engineer Boikanyo Mpho from Bergstan Gauff Consulting Engineers said the project suffered a major setback.

"On the June 9 there was a major freak flood on the riverbed and the construction of the dam was hugely affected," he said. According to the contractor, SinoHydro Corporation, the extension of time cost the company P130 million.

Mpho said that they are also facing other challenges, including lack of qualified local personnel.

Assistant Project Manager Jing Jinke said that the project was experiencing shortage of skilled manpower.

"As you can see machines are idle because of lack of manpower to operate them," he said. He further said that when they came to the area, they also experienced geological problems.

"The geology condition of the rock was not so good and so we had to dig deeper, which meant more time and money, to get to the right geological rock," said Jinke. Despite all the obstacles, the P113 billion project has achieved much in the past 17 months.

Dikgatlhong Project employs 540 employees of which 140 are Chinese. Jinke also says that they have about 20 Batswana in management positions. Jinke also said that they are racing after time because they want to prepare for the rains that will come sometime in November so that they do not experience a similar disaster.

Government hopes that once completed, the dam project will lead to an upsurge in water based commercial activities like fisheries, horticulture, yachting, boat cruises, birding, photography and more. It is also expected to supply water to Gaborone and the South East. The dam capacity is 400 million cubic m at full capacity and the walls will be at 48m metres high once completed.

The June rains have also affected other projects like Nata Senior Secondary School that is also under construction.

Unik Construction are hopeful that they will complete the school in good time.

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