Mohembo — Construction of the multi-million pula Mohembo bridge, which is almost one year behind schedule, has reportedly not experienced more delays due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Ministries of Transport and Communications, Finance and Economic Development and Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs permanent secretaries learnt during a recent visit that the site remained operational during the lockdown period.
The delegation was informed that overall progress to date stood at 67 with May 25, 2021 having been set as the new completion date.
The project, awarded to ITANERI in 2016 was initially scheduled for completion in July last year.
Challenges including finalisation of the alternative design, which took longer than expected and sourcing of material from as far as Italy resulted in delays and subsequently revision of completion date.
The project is expected to address challenges faced by residents who use the pantoon to cross the Okavango River.
The new bridge will also expand tourism activities in the Okavango area.
In an interview, Ministry of Transport and Communications permanent secretary, Ms Alicia Mokone appreciated that although the project was behind schedule, the contractor did not experience any delay during lockdown apart from travelling issues.
Ms Mokone further appreciated that the contractorwas assisted obtaining with necessary travel permits for procurement of cement and fly-ash during the extreme social distancing period.
She encouraged the contractor to be time conscious in order to meet the deadline.
"The purpose of our visit was to check on the project progress, appreciate challenges with a view to see how best we can unblock the issues as the bridge is one of the major government projects," she added.
Finance and Economic Development permanent secretary, Dr Wilfred Mandlebe appreciated the good progress of the project especially since there were no reports of cost escalations.
Government encourages contractors to complete projects within stipulated time and budget to avoid cost overruns; he said.
He called on the contractor to complete the project within the revised budget.
Earlier, project senior resident engineer, Mr Veeranagowda Partel had apprised the delegation on the project background, challenges and its COVID-19 response.
He appreciated assistance extended to the contractor to ensure timely procurement of parts and equipment as well as successful delivery of construction material.
Mr Partel cited the delivery of two consignments, which reached the site last month amid extreme social distancing.
He however said replacement of parts was delayed by COVID-19 restrictions.