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NEW GOVT BUILDING FALLING INTO RUIN

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mfanukhona@times.co.sz


MBABANE – The new double storey building at Hospital Hill housing the offices of the PPCU poses a health hazard to occupants.


This is due to the fact that the Policy and Programme Coordinating Unit building, which was built about 10 years ago, is now dilapidated, and needs major rehabilitation. It has been established that some of the offices are leaking.
The PPCU falls under the administration of Cabinet. Its objectives include - reviewing, advising and analysing government policies and other documents across all sectors, coordinating and assisting ministries in policy formulation, monitoring and reporting on policy and programme implementation through what is called the Perfomance Targeting and Appraisal Programme.



DRAWINGS COST E1.4m


It was not ascertained how much government spent on the construction of the new building, but architectural drawings for this project cost E1.4 million.  
It was built amid concerns that the old offices, which used to be an official residence for retired expatriate Judge of the High Court of Swaziland (Eswatini) David Hull, needed a major facelift because they were terribly dilapidated.
As a result, the budget for the rehabilitation of these offices was channelled to the construction of the new offices, which are also a cause for concern. Apart from leakages, the paint is peeling off.


“In our offices, let me say that government documents are exposed to rain. We aren’t safe here because we are not sure if the electricity cables aren’t exposed to the rain,” said one of the concerned civil servants.
It is indicated in the government budget estimates for the years from 2012 to March 2015 that a sum of E5.8 million was released for the rehabilitation of the PPCU offices, construction of 13 offices, new Cabinet chamber and conference room.
The total cost for the entire project was fixed at E26.6 million.


Percy Simelane, the Government Press Secretary, said the state of the building was reported to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. He said the ministry sent officers to evaluate the extent of the damage.
He hoped the ministry was doing something to address the issue, as it was true the building was leaking, and a cause for concern. Simelane said it was possible that delays in rehabilitating the building was caused by financial constraints on the part of government.


Asked why the contractor was not informed of the poor state of the building, Simelane said: “In my experience as a director of EBIS (Eswatini Broadcasting and Information Services), a contractor enters into a contract with government to set up the structure, and there would be a clause under normal circumstance, which indicates that complaints about the quality of the building should be forwarded to the contractor within six months after the commissioning of the structure.”
The government press secretary said it would be wrong to call upon the contractor to address the problem now since the deadline for reporting any damage elapsed a long time ago.


Makhosini Mndawe, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said Simelane was spot on, as, indeed, the issue of the building was reported to the ministry.
He said they had all along been working on a budget for the project. He said money has since been allocated to his ministry to rehabilitate the building.


Mndawe mentioned that they were in the process of engaging a contractor. At the beginning of 2019, he was hopeful that the contractor would be engaged in accordance with government regulations to do the job.
He said the ministry’s officers in the Building Department could not be assigned to renovate the building because the PPCU project would actually be extensive.
He was not in a position to disclose how much government would spend on the rehabilitation of the building, which also houses the offices of the human trafficking secretariat.

report on rehabilitation  


The auditor general’s 2010 report indicateed that an amount of E11 million was approved but only E4.8 million was released for the rehabilitation of PPCU offices and construction of a conference room at the Cabinet offices.
It is stated in the report that the actual expenditure for this project amounted to E7.5 million, resulting in an over expenditure of E4.8 million.
The auditor general stated that the controlling officer in Cabinet mentioned in his letter dated November 3, 2010, that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport confirmed that that these funds were mistakenly transferred from the capital project account to the accruals accounts yet payment had already been made on voucher number 120706 and 120708.


Seven years ago, the Times SUNDAY reported that there was one budget for the PPCU and construction of new Cabinet offices. A budget of E28 million was allocated for the project, but a large chunk of it was channelled to the construction of the new offices. Various companies won tenders for the project numbered Tenders 148 and 195.
According to those tenders, the construction of cabinet offices would cost E18 million.


The company which was awarded the construction tender worth E18 128 500 was NS Construction.
A company called Kool Bananas won the tender to provide aluminium works that was used for the construction of the cabinet offices.
The aluminium works that were provided by the company were valued at E2.5 million.
The responsibility of shop fitting the cabinet offices was given to Wood City.
Fittings cost E904 037.50.


Rob’s Electrical won E1.7 million tender for electrical installation.
For proper air conditioning and ventilation of the cabinet offices, government awarded a company called VIVA, which charged E637 273. Tender for computer and data networking installation was won by Computronics at a cost of E236 038.
For internal and external communication purposes, government awarded a tender to a company called Vectron, which had the task of installing a public address system at a cost of over E1.5 million.
A tower was put up for the Prime Minister’s residence at a cost E900 000.


CM Concrete was expected to build it. Then, the issue of PPCU came in, as it was reflected in government papers that a tender for the structural engineering for the rehabilitation of the unit and construction of the cabinet offices was to be done by Swaziland Consulting Engineers at a cost of E2.6 million.

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